BlackBerry Playbook

Mon Apr 4 23:34:54 2011 EDT (-0400 GMT)

The BlackBerry Playbook coming out on April 19th has some familiar plays in it – if you grew-up in Ontario:

  1. RIM is a Waterloo-based company
  2. RIM is/was known for their trackball
  3. The device is running the QNX operating system, developed by Waterloo/Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems (which RIM just bought)
  4. The screen and input device is are an all-in-one deisgn
  5. The whole enterprise seems like a string of poor decisions to create something that will be expensive and will not be successful

Where have we seen these plays before?

The Unisys ICON! Wikipedia Article:

The computer built specifically for use in Ontario schools commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

(Thanks for the image,

Unisys ICON computers were kicking around my public school when I was a kid. They didn’t do much beyond very basic word-processing and had a lot of games on them, thanks to the local board of education, and a few of my friends. They were all networked, and relatively reliable, save for the poor teacher/”computer lead” who gave admin access to some of the Grade 8 students.

The ICONs had a trackball (the PlayBook won’t, but the BlackBerry Pearl and others do), it had an all-in-one hardware design, and sat in the corner of our classroom, mostly unused.

The most relevant commonality is that the old ICONs were running the QNX operating system!

The ICON was ultimately deemed too expensive to keep in use or develop for and was cast-off in favour of Apple and others’ more user friendly products.

So now you know Ontario: when you think BlackBerry Playbook, think Unisys ICON.

Update: Tuesday April 19, 2011

Apparently two more things they have in common is no E-Mail application and they both can’t connect to the internet on their own!

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