RIM's email-less PlayBook gets tough reviews

Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:24am EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and Liana Baker

TORONTO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - RIM's PlayBook tablet bombed with influential technology reviewers who called the iPad competitor a rushed job that won't even provide RIM's vaunted email service unless it's hooked up to a BlackBerry.

The poor initial response to a device the company hopes will get it onboard the tablet computing explosion overshadowed a splashy coming-out party in New York Thursday evening, where co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis drummed up the gadget's attractiveness with corporate users.

There was little mention of the stinging reviews only hours before.

"RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do email. It must be skating season in hell," New York Times' David Pogue wrote in a review published on Thursday.

Research In Motion built its reputation on a BlackBerry email service that it says is so secure that it can't bow to government requests to tap messages, winning high-profile customers in business, defense and politics before branching out to a wider consumer market.

But the PlayBook, which hits North American store shelves on Tuesday, offers that secure service only in tandem with a BlackBerry. RIM says secure email and other key services will come later, not at launch.

"I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market," Walt Mossberg, the widely followed business and consumer technology critic, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article headlined "PlayBook: a tablet with a case of codependency."

The pessimism of the reviews seemed to hit RIM's often volatile shares, which fell 1.7 percent to $53.92 on the Nasdaq on Thursday, the lowest closing price since Oct 25. It fell a further 1.1 percent in after-hours trading.   Continued...

<p>A new Blackberry tablet, the PlayBook tablet computer, is displayed at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino</p>