A leaked document intended for use only by RIM staff suggests that the Canadian company's soon-to-be-launched BlackBerry PlayBook will be missing some rather important features.
RIM's bomb-proof e-mail and messaging services have long been the BlackBerry's unique selling point but the leaked memo (opens in new tab) seems to suggest that neither service will be available as native apps when the potential iPad-killer launches on April 16th.
Starting at $499, the PlayBook has always been aimed at the business market where pioneering BlackBerry smartphones made their mark, but now it seems that PlayBook owners will also need to have access to one of the company's handsets in order to use the tablet's full functionality.
BlackBerry Messenger, email and calendar services will rely on BlackBerry Bridge to connect to the handset, to all intents and purposes turning the tablet into a very expensive external monitor with a built-in web browser.
The pertinent part of the leaked missive reads:
Q: Will apps such as e-mail, contacts, calendar etc. be available natively on BlackBerry PlayBook?
The BlackBerry PlayBook can be used in conjunction with a BlackBerry smartphone or it can be used on its own (i.e. standalone).
The BlackBerry Bridge feature creates a secure Bluetooth link between a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and BlackBerry smartphone allowing BlackBerry smartphone users to view and interact with the email, BBM and PIM apps on their BlackBerry smartphone using the larger BlackBerry PlayBook screen.
In addition, users can access their e-mail via the BlackBerry PlayBook’s web browser without any need for a BlackBerry smartphone.
In a future software update for the BlackBerry PlayBook, we will also provide native e-mail, calendar, and contact apps for those customers who prefer to have these apps directly on the tablet.
RIM has been accused of rushing the PlayBook to market in order to steal some of the iPad's thunder, but releasing an expensive device with many of its prime features hobbled to such an extent could damage the PlayBook's reputation.
Native apps for the tablets proprietory OS will also be few and far between at launch, and Android apps are expected to take a performance hit as they are forced to run inside an optional Android App Player application adding to the CPU overhead.
We've asked RIM to comment on the leak which has confirmed what many suspected, that only existing BlackBerry owners will find a real use for the seven-inch tablet, and we'll update you if and when they get back to us.
We suspect that RIM's PR machine will churn out the stock response that the company doesn't comment on leaks, rumours or conjecture.