RIM Wins With This PlayBook 2.0

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- After, what -- a year? -- of rumors, leaks, pre-announcements, announcements, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts and whatever else passes for information in this dark disinformation age, struggling Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion ( RIMM) finally released the upgrade for its tortured tablet, the PlayBook.

Marketed as the PlayBook 2.0 ($199 for a 16 GB model), this new tablet riff is part of BlackBerry's emerging device and operating system strategy dubbed BlackBerry 10. According to the hype spinning at the Mobile World Congress, going on this week in Barcelona, BlackBerry 10 will be Research In Motion's magic bullet that restores its place in the world of smartphones. The PlayBook 2.0 is also the first real offering from RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Heins.
Research In Motion has finally released the upgrade for its tortured tablet, the PlayBook, and it's safe to say 2.0 is fine as a name and too low to be a score.

But of course, RIM is still RIM. Drama somehow inserts itself into everything it does. So BlackBerry 10 probably won't be released until the fall. Which means, for businesses trying to determine if RIM is still worth the heartache, PlayBook 2.0 is about the only hard information we have on what tomorrow might hold.

Last week, I broke out my demo PlayBook, did the 2.0 upgrade -- which took, like, hours -- and spent the past few days using it here in my business.

Here's what I learned:

1. RIM does have a future as a business software company.
The immediate business takeaway with the upgraded PlayBook is that RIM is finally getting the hang of the software thang. The PlayBook has several new core apps including -- finally! -- email, an upgraded calendar and a deeper, easier-to-use App Market. All not only worked, but worked pretty well. For example, the email app called "messages" integrates email, Facebook, LinkedIn ( LNKD) and Twitter, as well as other accounts, into a single, easy-to-use interface. Is it earth-shattering? Of course not. But the combined messaging approach was productive for a business. And considering what a commodity tablets have become, decent business email and calendar might make these units a choice for firms.

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