by Thomas Brady


The BlackBerry PlayBook is doomed.

Yours truly.

Here’s RIM CEO Basille explaining why they’re supporting BlackBerry Java SDK, HTML5, Adobe AIR, and Android SDK 2.3 on the PlayBook (via Business Insider via Daring Fireball):

…I’m out of the religious war on tonnage, which I’m delighted.

In other words, right now the way you sell a mobile device is to sell an ecosystem - which really means to sell the promise of lots and lots of available apps(“tonnage” in his words), and since BlackBerry doesn’t feel confident investing in just one or two of the platforms listed above, for fear that another will be the one to take off, they support all of them. If they could throw iOS into that mix you can bet they would.

You could call this a lack of vision. You could call it a lack of conviction. You could call it cowardice. Whatever C-word you pick, it’ll definitely be crap. I don’t believe it’s possible to support that many platforms all at once with any semblance of quality.

This is awful for the developer. Next to no one will be writing original apps for the PlayBook, if for no other reason than sifting through 4 separate SDKs to figure out which one has the API support I’m looking for is an added step to an already complex process of writing mobile apps. And I don’t for a minute believe there will be API parity between all those platforms. I don’t think that’s even technically feasible. 

What this will ensure is a large pool of apps developed for another platform that will “run” on the PlayBook: apps developed for the Xoom or for an Android phone or for the web or, possibly the worst case, a BlackBerry 8300.

I don’t even like using iPhone apps on my iPad, and that’s about as good a “virtual machine” experience as I’ve seen.

Virtual machines are incredibly useful for certain tasks (wherein they’re only more practical than actually using the machine, not more usable), but hell if I want to spend all day in one, much less 4. The PlayBook is now, basically, a VMBook.

Dead on arrival. Mark it.