Issues Keep the BlackBerry PlayBook out of Stores for the Holidays

The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet might have been the perfect gift for the tech savvy on your shopping list this holiday season. Unfortunately, with its early 2011 launch date now, the PlayBook won’t be under anyone’s Christmas tree this year. Why is Research In Motion (RIM) planning on launching the PlayBook after the holidays? Because it has to apparently.

According to noted analyst Ashok Kumar (from Rodman & Renshaw), RIM had no choice but to shelve plans for an earlier PlayBook launch. The reason? The new BlackBerry Tablet OS by QNX Software Systems—which RIM acquired recently—just is not done yet. You might note that when shown at BlackBerry DevCon 2010, the PlayBook didn’t really do anything. The videos of it in action were nice. But didn’t give us any hint at how the device works in someone’s hands.

Also, RIM has had to change the processor for the PlayBook. A Texas Instruments processor now sits inside of it. No word yet if this is until Marvell can get the bugs worked out of their new processor or is permanent. So when does this thing really hit the streets? Don’t bet on January—or February even. The PlayBook is starting to look more like it was slapped together in an unfinished form by RIM for the benefit of the conference. RIM’s stock price has been heading south all year and maybe the company just figured showing off what it is still working on would be beneficial.

Don’t get me wrong. The PlayBook is sure to come out eventually, but with the lack of a 3G or 4G cellular enabled version at launch isn’t good for business. The Bluetooth tethering option to a BlackBerry smartphone with cellular data access is very cool, but ultimately, a poor substitute for offering truly standalone versions of the tablet. Anyone want to bet how many of these things will sell in the first month? I love RIM and the BlackBerry platform, but RIM needs to deliver now. Offering us promises of a device that almost seems to good to be true needs to be backed up with something that actually works.

Let me know when you think the BlackBerry PlayBook will really hit the light of day. I can’t wait to get my hands on one, and I bet you can’t either. Keep your fingers crossed.

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