Waterloo, Ontario - Research In Motion (RIM) expects to offer the next generation of its PlayBook tablet OS in February, having "made the difficult decision" to hold off "until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end users," said RIM senior VP David J. Smith.
The company nonetheless released a beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 to developers so they can begin porting apps to the platform, he said in a blog post.
In other developments, the company entered into an agreement with luxury brand Porsche Design to offer Porsche Designs' first smartphone, the Porsche Design P'9981 from BlackBerry. Porsche Design sells its luxury goods worldwide through its own stores, franchise stores, department stores and exclusive retailers.
The company also announced that its BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphones, which are available in the U.S., have become the first SIM-based smartphones with nearfield communications (NFC) technology to be certified by MasterCard Worldwide as PayPass-approved devices. As a result, MasterCard PayPass-issuing banks anywhere in the world will be able to deploy PayPass-enabled accounts to the phones' SIM cards, RIM explained.
As for the new Playbook OS, it will add integrated email, calendar and contact apps to Wi-Fi-only PlayBooks. With the current OS, users must tether a Wi-Fi-only PlayBook to a BlackBerry phone via Bluetooth to bring the phone's email, calendar and contacts to the tablet's display.
The new OS will also feature a new video store and "new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better," RIM's Smith said.
The new OS, however, won't include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging. The company is committed to "developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push-based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry users around the world," he said, and "we're still working on it." In the meantime, users of the Wi-Fi tablet can continue to securely access BBM by tethering the tablet to a BlackBerry phone, he said.
Meantime, RIM plans shortly to start a series of closed betas of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with select enterprise customers over the course of this year to bring RIM's app deployment, device manageability, security and email-integration capabilities to the tablet, Smith said.