Buried in the dismal news regarding BlackBerry’s sharp decline in earnings when revenue recovery was expected last week, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins also confirmed during the earnings call on Friday that the company’s PlayBook tablet would not in fact be updated to BB10 proper as initially promised and declined to specify why the company changed its plans, but the specifications for the Z10 and Q10 may say more than expected.
Since the operating system was first revealed in the Dev Alpha hardware last year in the run up to the launch this January, the QNX-based BB10 operating system was known for being heavy on hardware resources, needing up to 1GB of RAM at any single time to power all of the necessary components, including multitasking and the Android virtual machine at once before any additional programs are used. While the PlayBook’s operating system is also based off of the QNX microkernel used in BB10, it’s missing several key additions found in the shipping version of BB10, such as the Hub and the fully functioning version of the Android app translator.
However a larger key reason for the decision may also lie in the perennial underperformance of the tablet itself in terms of sales. Since the launch of the tablet in 2011 as the first part of BlackBerry’s turnaround to showcase its plans to recover from its slump, the tablet has never performed inline with sales expectations, to the point that retailers would regularly firesale tablets at regular intervals to clear out excess inventory, and current inventory has become a common sight on daily deal sites for 40-60% off of MSRP, meaning that the tablet itself was never of interest outside of the dedicated BlackBerry user, even with initial flaws which included the lack of a built-in email client among other features that were added in subsequent updates.