RIM’s half-CEOs whine: It’s not ‘fair’ that our ‘superior’ tablet is getting bad reviews

“Research In Motion Ltd. co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie said criticism of the company’s PlayBook tablet computer, which goes on sale next week, are misguided because they ignore RIM’s base of BlackBerry faithful,” Hugo Miller reports for Bloomberg.

“Technology columnists criticized the 7-inch tablet for its limited number of applications, lack of built-in e-mail and inability to connect to mobile-phone networks — issues that won’t be remedied until new software and further editions of the device are introduced later this year. Some critics suggested RIM rushed an unfinished device to market, a charge Balsillie refutes,” Miller reports. “‘I don’t think that’s fair,’ Balsillie, 50, said in a television interview with Bloomberg News yesterday, pointing out that more than 60 million BlackBerry smartphone users can pair their phones and PlayBooks to read e-mail and connect to the Internet.”

Miller reports, “While RIM hasn’t forecast how many of the devices it will sell, Balsillie said the opportunity is significant. ‘I like our chances for a lot of share,’ he said. ‘We’re very excited about where we are.'”

MacDailyNews Take: “I like our strategy. I like it a lot,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on CNBC, after seeing Apple’s iPhone, January 17, 2007

Miller reports, “Co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis said RIM expects to distinguish itself in the tablet market the same way it did in mobile phones — through better technology. The PlayBook has security features that appeal to corporate customers and unique extras, such as the ability to let consumers browse the Web and run videos simultaneously, he said in an interview last week. The device, which is smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad, is also designed to be ‘ultraportable’ so it can be more frequently used during the day, he said. ‘This is superior,’ he said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Well, there’s a tremendous load. The real reason why the PlayBook’s too-tiny screen is just 45% the size of iPad’s is because RIM can’t come anywhere close to matching Apple on price, even if they could somehow manage to find screens the same size as iPads. Apple has cornered the touchscreen display market and left the tablet roadkill with tiny screens that are ill-suited for touchscreen tablet use.

Miller reports, “RIM didn’t make the decision on size lightly. Todd Wood, vice president of industrial design, and his team studied the optimal proportions for a tablet while Lazaridis weighed what format would offer a screen big enough for watching video and could pack a powerful processor, and remain portable. The inspiration for the final size was decidedly low-tech: the Moleskine leather notebooks used by Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.”

MacDailyNews Take: More crap. Who are you going with, Apple and Steve Jobs or a blindsided company that’s been in scramble mode since Steve Jobs pulled the first iPhone from his pocket? Remember, RIM swore up and down that The Storm was an inspired design, too.

(Inspired by Edsel.)

We’ll stick with Steve Jobs over half a RIM CEO and some random “industrial design” employee who probably has at least three Jony Ive posters on every wall of his bedroom.

One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad an hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the ipad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on tough interfaces over many years and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

Miller reports, “Consumers have had the chance to buy smaller tablets for months, though sales haven’t threatened the iPad’s dominance. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, the size of the PlayBook, went on sale in October and had shipped 2 million units by the end of 2010. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. last week cut the price of the device for a second time this year to spur sales.”

MacDailyNews Take: Please see the related article: Samsung Exec: Galaxy Tab shipments were 2 million; shipments, not sales to end users – January 31, 2011

Miller reports, “The PlayBook starts at $499, the same as the least expensive iPad 2. The priciest PlayBook is $699, while the top- end iPad, which comes with a 3G connection, is $829.”

MacDailyNews Take: Great reporting. Oh, by the way, the PlayBook’s tiny screen is just 45% the size of iPad’s screen. Sorry, for again mentioning such an irrelevant fact (smirk).

Miller reports, “A large installed base of business customers should help RIM sell about 250,000 PlayBooks in its current fiscal quarter which ends in May, and 5.4 million over the fiscal year, predicts Alkesh Shah, an analyst with Evercore Partners Inc.”

MacDailyNews Take: iCal’ed.

Miller reports, “The device will probably capture 10 percent of the tablet market by 2015, compared with 47 percent for the iPad, research firm Gartner Inc. predicts. PlayBook sales will be about 29 million devices in 2015, eclipsed by a forecast of about 138 million iPad sales, according to Gartner.”

MacDailyNews Take: And iCal’ed.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In the case of RIM vs. Apple, two heads aren’t better than one. RIM’s half-CEOs have combined to sound very much like Palm’s CEO once did.

Related articles:
Pogue reviews RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook: Half-baked, buggy, and missing important features – April 14, 2011
RIM’s half-CEO Lazaridis walks out of BBC interview – April 13, 2011
Research in Motion’s half-CEO admits to being clueless – April 11, 2011
Apple corners market for display panels – April 7, 2011
Apple’s upfront cash payments secure components, blocking out competitors – April 7, 2011
Gassée: ‘The inmates have taken over the asylum’ at BlackBerry-maker RIM – March 28, 2011
Apple to consume majority of touchscreen displays in 2011 and 2012 – March 14, 2011
RIM shares drop as marketing chief leaves company on eve of supposed PlayBook launch – March 4, 2011
Analyst: RIM’s expensive, flawed PlayBook tablet will be poorly received – February 1, 2011
Steve Jobs: I don’t see RIM catching us; Android is a fragmented mess; 7-inch tablets will be DOA – October 18, 2010


  1. You could say they’re “half”-way there (in screen size, not market share). Well, this is probably going to be another “half”-baked device dubbed “iPad killer”.

      1. Is Silly Balls saying that the PB is using a windowing system so that you can do both? I mean that’s the opposite of what makes the iPad so magical. Windows go away. The app is the device. Every app takes up the whole screen.

        1. I agree! Have you seen the mind numbing screen shot HP has been using for the xoone?

          I felt agitated just by looking at it. Now this this playbook fail is going to window everything! Emulators for 3 different OS’s.


    1. >I have only two eyes.

      Yes…but not two CEO’s – At RIM, one CEO likes browsing…the other video. Merge these needs and voila…a superior feature. 😉

  2. As a doctor, I can respect the smaller form factor in the health industry. Something that fits in a labcoat is going to be a lot more usable and convenient than something that has to be carried in the hand.

    Apple gets props for kick-starting an idle industry, and some of their thoughts and research on the form factor and size are valid, but there will definitely be a place for the smaller 7 inch size now that developers have turned real attention to tablets and healthcare and enterprise apps. If Apple came out with the iPod touch maxi or the iPad mini at a labcoat or jacket pocket size, it would be game over for all competitors, because it would consume the 5-10% of the market that needs or thinks it needs that size.

    1. If you do a search you’ll find quite a selection of lab coats that have a pocket that the iPad fits in. Some medical people have lab coats that already have a big enough pocket. So I guess it is “game over for all competitors” unless you have another reason for not wanting to use the iPad.

    2. We just released a lab coat with slightly larger pockets to fit an iPad. So now doctor’s won’t have to carry their much-more-useable iPad in their hands. Order now…

    3. I’d prefer an iPad and bigger lab coat pockets than Rim’s alternative that’s half the size with no apps and e-mail. Reality check is in order for Grrrlla’s comment. Face it.. iPad 2 dominates. If you get something else you are going to have a subpar machine that will kill your patients.

  3. That’s just amazing. Why would corporate buyers want to buy a tablet which has no apps? So their salespeople can surf the web and play a video at the same time? Gee, that will be fun on a 7″ screen. And why the hell would you want to do that anyway?

  4. I check a lot of reviews on the it and not that bad, it just not the iPad. The screen size will be a major issue for a lot of people.
    Part of me wants to see RIM succeed to some degree as it is a better option than those POS android devices. Apple need a bit of competion in the tablet market to keep on it toes. Remember it was not so long a go that the shoe was on the other foot, Microsoft was in with that crapy Windows OS and Apple was playing catch up.

    1. Rim is not going to keep Apple on it toes.. it’s going to have Apple on the floor laughing in fits.

      It’s true that competition is good for consumers. At this point, though, there isn’t any. If you want a tablet, common sense will direct you to the iPad 2. There really is no alternative.

  5. They’re flummoxed!

    They are trying to release the Playbook which is still in beta. When you core competency is email and the Tablet you’ve been touting as an iPad killer for 6 months doesn’t do it out of the box, you blew it. It has very few apps and without 3G (not available yet) you can’t use web apps,so what can you do away from WiFi?

  6. It’s small, that ties one hand behind your back.

    It requires a Blackberry with a contract to operate, that ties the other hand behind your back.

    How do you type on the damn thing? Use your nose?

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