Research In Motion Ltd. will demonstrate some of the new features packaged into an upcoming software update for the technology giant's PlayBook tablet computer this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company's tablet, which has not sold well compared to Apple Inc.'s iPad but has found success at steeply discounted prices, has been criticized for lacking some of the functions that critics and consumers expected – features they could find on a BlackBerry smartphone.
After a delay, RIM said an update for the PlayBook's operating system would arrive in February, and on Monday the company said it would be previewing some of that functionality at CES, a highly anticipated technology conference. Some of the new features include a native email application, new calendar functionality, the ability to type onto the PlayBook via the BlackBerry's QWERTY-keyboard and various enterprise features meant to spur the deployment of PlayBook tablets within corporations.
“BlackBerry PlayBook is already recognized for delivering powerful performance, true multi-tasking, advanced web browsing and (high definition) multimedia in an ultra-portable design,” said Mike Lazaridis, RIM's founder and co-chief executive officer, in a statement. “With BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 we are building on this strong foundation, as well as leveraging our strengths in communications, social integration and productivity.”
The company also announced a BlackBerry Video Storefront – available at first only in the United States, but expanded to other countries throughout the year – that would allow PlayBook users to download “thousands of movies and TV shows,” which can be viewed as soon as the download begins.
Many reviewers thought RIM's PlayBook was released too early, with software that was not yet fully refined. The software update, which was delayed, was designed to address some of these problems, including the lack of a native enterprise email application when the PlayBook is used over a Wi-Fi connection.
The PlayBook has also been widely discounted by a variety of retailers and RIM itself, partly to spur adoption. Currently, all versions of the PlayBook, from its 16 gigabyte version to the 64 gigabyte version, are discounted to $299.99. The most expensive version was previously $699.99.
RIM recently took a pre-tax hit of $485-million as a result of re-pricing its PlayBook inventory.