24 Sep What I Want In a “BlackPad”

Undoubtedly you’ve heard rumors of a “BlackPad”, or a BlackBerry-based tablet device. I don’t know anything specific or even general about RIM’s rumored device, but after having used an iPad since launch and a lot of other tablets, I wanted to share a few things I would like to see in a BlackBerry tablet if it does become a reality.

Background and Caveats

I have used BlackBerry devices for about ten years and I currently use a BlackBerry Bold for work. It has been an indispensable work device, and without it, I wouldn’t have been half as productive. The Bold is long in tooth, but it is reliable. I was one of the first iPhone owners and I own a Nexus One and an HTC EVO 4G, but for right now, I like the real keyboard in my BlackBerry for work. If an iOS4 device existed with a keyboard, or if I liked any of the Android keyboards, I’d buy one and use it for work.

Therefore, I would like my BlackPad to be optimized for work, not play. Here is what I would like to see.

Access to Basic Enterprise Apps

 Quite simply, I want to perform some basic enterprise tasks on my BlackPad:

  • Network access– Secure, wireless access to the corporate network and its resources.
  • Printing– Printing to networked printers.
  • SharePoint– Download from, post to SharePoint.
  • Web Apps– Ultimate Microsoft Internet Explorer browser emulation to run in-house SAP-based corporate apps like budgeting, expenses and HR functions.
  • BlackBerry Apps– Of course, it needs to do email, calendar, address book and notes.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing, even on a ten inch display, helps with business communications. At a minimum, you can see if someone is actually paying attention. Using FaceTime really pointed out the potential productivity gains I could see with video communications. And unlike a PC, I don’t need to dig for it in my bag, boot, open Skype. To be fair, the PC yields much better quality in video and audio with a larger screen, but a pad is convenient.

The smaller BlackBerry could even serve as a second camera and microphone if you wanted a second person to join in the room or if you wanted to use it as a document or object “broadcaster.”

Super-fast Wireless and Networking

BlackPad needs to have the latest wireless and networking support to quench my appetite for speed and to give the BlackPad long life. Plus it’s late to the game and needs to up the ante.

  • 4G- Whether its LTE or WiMax, it doesn’t matter, just give me some speed and longevity.
  • HotSpot– Wi-Fi “n” hotspot to connect smartphones, PCs and iPods anywhere I choose.
  • Peer to Peer– Bluetooth 3.0 or Wi-Fi Direct, I don’t care. Even if it isn’t fully baked, pack in hardware that can be upgraded.

Peer to Peer Resource Sharing with BlackBerry Smartphone

 If I own a BlackBerry, I’d like it to be able to borrow the resources of the BlackPad and vice versa:

  • Wireless– I do not want to pay for two wireless accounts and neither will very many CFOs. If I have it in my BlackBerry I don’t want it in my BlackPad. In order to not swamp AT&T, have one device download the email, calendar items and send them to the other device directly, peer to peer.
  • BlackPad features– My BlackBerry should be able to access the same functions as the BlackPad. If my BlackPad can print, then I would like to be able to print from my BlackBerry, through the BlackPad.
  • Phone calls– Again, if I have one phone on one of my two devices, I don’t want two phone numbers or to pay for two phones. If I have both devices present, I would like to be able to make calls on either device. Look at the thickness difference between the iPhone 4 and a 4th generation iPod Touch. I could save a lot of space and battery life if I didn’t need the baseband in both devices.
  • Display mirroring– Whatever I see on my BlackBerry screen I want to see on my BlackPad screen with the flip of a switch, and vice-versa. This especially helps if the two platforms (BlackBerry/BlackPad) don’t have the exact same compatibility and software load. I get the cool new features on both devices, not just one. It also enables another person to see exactly what I am looking at and to follow along if I want; I just give them one of the devices. Yes, if the apps aren’t modified it may look a bit jagged but find a way to smooth out the jaggies. It’s called anti-aliasing, embrace it. J

Conclusion

Because I already have a BlackBerry, I would like to see my “BlackPad” as my work accessory to my BlackBerry, and vice-versa. I love my iPad, but it has virtually no connection to my BlackBerry or the corporate network functions. My IT guys still cringe at the thought of connecting the iPad to the network.

I recognize that some of these features and applications seem far out, BUT the technology does exist today to make them happen. There are also a lot of user interface challenges that would need to be overcome for these features to be intuitive.