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Round 2: Play resumed

Ah, the BlackBerry PlayBook. Of all the tablets to have failed to tackle the onslaught of Apple's iPad - the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and HP TouchPad being the best-known - the failure of this particular tablet has attracted the most negative attention, simply because it's seen as representative of a wider crisis at its maker, Research in Motion. The inventor of the legendary BlackBerry has been flailing for some time now as it struggles to compete with the likes of the iPhone, and switching tack to make a tablet seemed an odd strategy - and it got upgraded from 'odd' to 'downright weird' when the PlayBook was released without a built-in email program.

So it's not totally surprising that sales have been poor, with RIM admitting last week that they shipped a mere 200,000 PlayBooks in the last three months. But now they're trying again. Get ready for PlayBook mark 2, world.

Now, PlayBook2 isn't an actual new tablet. Rather, RIM is set to release a much-needed software update which tackles lots of the issues with the original device. There'll be a native email program, as well as contacts and calendar apps, and a video store rumoured to have 10,000 movies in its catalogue at launch. (Whether you'll be buying or renting from it, we don't know.)

Most interestingly, the upcoming PlayBook OS update will bring with it a little app called Android Player, which will let PlayBook users run Android apps. This is potentially transformational for PlayBook, giving it access to thousands of extra apps. But opening an app in order to open an app will be a bit of a faff, so it remains to be seen whether Android App Player will prove easy enough to use to revive the moribund tablet.

Does this update mean you should rush out and buy a PlayBook right now? Probably not - not least because it's widely expected RIM will cut the tablet's price to boost sales in the wake of the update. But if you're one of those who already touts a PlayBook, this update should make it a chunk more useful.

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