∞ RIM unveils the PlayBook and a bag of unicorns

The media went crazy this week reporting on the next iPad killer, the PlayBook, which was unveiled by BlackBerry-maker, Research in Motion. There’s only one problem — it doesn’t exist. Your Mac Life’s Shawn King was having a field day this week on Twitter berating the media for not taking RIM to task for not actually showing a product. They talked about it, gave specs for it, but nobody actually saw one. (Edit: Apparently you could see, but not touch the devices. Engadget has more.)

I defended the right of the media to report on RIM’s news, but the more I read, the more I realized that very few in the media made it clear that there really wasn’t a product. There was the promise of a product.

That is what many would call vaporware.

RIM has been around for a long time, so I’m confident that what they announced will actually be released someday. The company says sometime in 2011. We’ll see.

According to CNET’s coverage of the Playbook, here’s what we know:

It has a 7-inch touch screen, is just under 10 millimeters thick, has a front and back-facing camera for videoconferencing, a 1GHz dual-core chip, and 1GB RAM, 1080p high-definition video playback, Wi-Fi, and supports HTML5 and Flash-based video.

And what we don’t know:

Of course, there’s still much we don’t know: when it will ship, price, availability, and even some core features like battery life. It’s easy to connect the dots that the product is not quite ready, but that the company wanted to get its tablet out there before the expected crush of tablet announcements expected later this year and early next year.

Here is another interesting read on Singularity Hacker:

The PlayBook was never demoed at the Live Announcement. The dude is supposedly holding the device in his hands and he doesn’t touch the screen once. Let me repeat that. He never touches the device once! The screen never changes and it never gets dark. I cant help but wonder if he’s just holding a dummy (plastic) device.Compare this to Apples iPad announcement. There was a frigin camera over Steve Jobs shoulder while he operates the actual device. If this PlayBook is so cool, why not actually show it off?

With strong sales of Apple’s iPad, RIM had to do what most companies are doing these days — promise its customers it is working on a tablet device. That really seems to be the extent of RIM’s announcements this week.