BBM on the Blackberry Playbook

Blackberry’s first and only tablet, the Playbook has had a long and tough life. Launching before the release of the Blackberry 10 OS, the Playbook was orphaned from the start due to it’s lack of apps, compatibility, and software updates.  While the Playbook itself is a sturdy and reliable tablet, the lack of a native BBM app was always a visible sign of it’s many issues.

With the launch of BB10 there was hope that a version of BBM could be ported over to the Playbook OS due to the platforms underlying similarities. Unfortunately the Playbook never did recieve a native version of BBM. When BBM was announced for Android and iOS there was again a small glimmer of hope that one could use the Playbook’s Android player to run the Android version of BBM. This also fell through as the Playbook only has support for Android apps written for Android 2.3 and not those designed for 4.0, like BBM.

Then, in January 2014, Blackberry announced there would be a version of android which would support Android 2.3. With this possibility there was finally hope that BBM would be coming to the Playbook. Unfortunately, when the Android 2.3 version of BBM finally launched in February it was unable to run on the Playbook, leaving Playbook users to conceded that there would never be a version of BBM that could run on the Playbook.

What I had failed to realize was that the lack of BBM for the Playbook was actually not only a non-issue for most user, and allowed Blackberry and the BBM team to avoid the inefficient allocation of resources it would have required. With only 400000 Playbooks having been sold, choosing to support such a small user-base would have been counter-productive. Even if Blackberry were to consider supporting the Playbook the reality is that most people who own a Playbook also own a Blackberry, or (with the release of BBM for Android and iOS) just another smartphone. Due to the security restrictions in BBM a user can only have their Blackberry ID activate BBM on device at a time. This means that Playbook owners would have to either choose to run BBM on either their Playbook instead of on their smartphone, something which is highly unlikely.

So with the Playbook all but relegated to the role of a 7″ web browser, Blackberry has moved on from the Playbook running BBM, and so should you and I.

Hayward Peirce Written by:

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