The more I look at the BlackBerry PlayBook, the device, the tool chain and the gap it aims at filling, the more I believe it's an enterprise play.
I wrote briefly on enterprise vs consumer in my BlackBerry World wrap up. In this post I want to dig deeper into the reasons and principal risk for why I think enterprise is a great opportunity for RIM and the PlayBook.
The premise I'm going from is that application development is key for the PlayBook. Speed of developing applications in enterprise is critical. I think the partnership with Adobe solves both for RIM.
A Huge Improvement in Application Creation Tools
RIM and Adobe teaming up is proving to be a good thing for the development of applications. Enterprise developers will finally get access to enterprise grade development tools. These tools are easy to use and they make a developer productive in no time unlike the standard BlackBerry tools, which are putting much more demand on the developer to create even the most simplistic application.
Adobe comes at the development of applications from the designer end of the spectrum and it's good that way. The enterprise workforce gets to stay far from the code for as long as they need to. The complexity of enterprise applications is not the technical difficulty per se. Rather it's understanding the workflow and where to get the data to display and when to display it.
Lastly Flex allows for rigorous development processes unlike Flash. Yet Flex is a language and the environment is much easier to learn and assimilate than Java for the workforce.
I see a risk in this whole thing and it's on the design side. Typically, enterprises do not have a user experience group or if they do they are very much visual design centric.
The PlayBook is a totally new design paradigm for enterprise. Enterprise is now proficient at designing applications for the BlackBerry and it's after 10 years of trial and error.
Short of hiring us to do the design (shameless plug), I strongly suggest RIM get on the get-on for the development of Design Guidelines that are very specific. I have reviewed the guidelines and they need to go beyond. The guidelines need to be made with the enterprise developer in mind and with all of RIM's know-how/expertise of that domain baked in. To be specific with the guidelines means significantly increasing the odds of getting true developers to create good applications leveraging the PlayBook
Business decisions are made from information and that information needs to be available and consumable so that decisions can be made. The PlayBook is a great support tool for easier decision-making and for more decisions being made away from a computer. This is a great value proposition for the enterprise of today.
RIM has made a high class set of development tools available to get developers rapidly developing and productive. The design of applications on the PlayBook will require new knowledge and RIM must drive there to help their best customers create the best possible and most delightful experiences.
RIM has put the right ingredients out there for enterprise to be interested by the PlayBook. The way to success for the PlayBook is lots of application development in their best market and delightful applications leveraging the device capabilities.