Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIM Delays Software Update for BlackBerry PlayBook

OTTAWA — Research In Motion, a company which is already the subject of much criticism over product delays, has now put off releasing significant software improvements to its struggling tablet computer until February.

The new operating system is intended to correct several obvious omissions in the BlackBerry PlayBook, most notably its inability to send or receive e-mail without being linked to a BlackBerry phone.

During an earnings announcement last month, RIM’s co-chief executives, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, suggested that the release of the update was imminent, and this month the company released an incomplete, early version of the software to developers.

The delay was announced in a blog post published on Tuesday evening by David J. Smith, RIM’s senior vice president for the PlayBook. He also said that the update will no longer include the popular BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, instant messaging service.

“As much as we’d love to have it in your hands today, we’ve made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users,” Mr. Smith wrote.

The delay will likely sink the chances of significant PlayBook sales during the holiday buying season.

The device has been exceptionally unsuccessful since its release in April. The company said during its last conference call that it had only shipped about 200,000 PlayBooks, although it declined to offer sales figures. Several large retailers in the United States recently offered rebates, which were underwritten by RIM, to stimulate sales. Whether that had the desired effect of reducing excess inventory is unclear.

RIM’s executives have never explained why instant messaging and e-mail were not included in the PlayBook from the start.

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