The 2011 PlayBook tablet could have been a home run for BlackBerry or at least bought time in the critical enterprise market. The device incorporated capable hardware and it was praised for its solid build quality. The 7-inch display was dismissed by some but turned out to be a prescient move given the current move away from full-sized tablets. But the PlayBook was a failure that ended up being a $1.5 billion sinkhole at a time when the company could hardly afford a miss. Much of the PlayBook mess was caused by poor execution:
- The company chose to rush the PlayBook out the door without native support for key applications like e-mail or BlackBerry Messenger.
- The PlayBook was incompatible with existing BlackBerry apps, but few apps were available at launch.
- Browser support of Flash was a big marketing point as an advantage over Apple’s iPad, but Flash performance was problematic at release.
- New York Times reviewer David Pogue pointed out that the PlayBook, aimed squarely at a business audience, was just half an inch too wide to slip into a suit pocket, saying, “Whoever muffed that design spec should be barred from the launch party.”