BlackBerry Bridge finally available to AT&T customers

After some extended testing and a false launch back in May, AT&T BlackBerry owners can now use Bridge with the PlayBook.

Bridge, as you might have heard, is the only way you can get core PIM applications on RIM’s 7-inch tablet, including e-mail, address book, memopad, and calendar. The web browser and app store offer a few alternatives, but they aren’t quite as useful as a purpose-built native app. While there are a lot of good reasons why RIM thinks these apps require a secure Bluetooth connection, it basically means that the PlayBook is useless to you unless you’ve got a BlackBerry smartphone.

Bridge aside, the PlayBook is a solid piece of hardware. It has a 7-inch 1024 x 600 display, 5 megapixel camera on the back, 3 megapixel camera on the front (both capable of recording 1080p video), and is powered by a dual-core 1 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM. The operating system is new, and will be the foundation for RIM’s smartphones after OS 7, but for now the app market isn’t particularly great, and there are still some core gaps to fill. Our full review of the PlayBook is over here.

RIM has been getting a lot of flak from employees lately about not being able to offer dissenting opinions without making professional sacrifices, and I think Bridge is the perfect example of that corporate culture; no doubt a couple of people thought Bridge would have cut off the PlayBook from Android and iOS users, but obviously nobody had the gall to say something about it, and if they did, it got shot down from on high. Those letters also make mention of RIM’s servitude to carriers, and the delayed AT&T launch of Bridge exemplifies that perfectly. Because RIM either didn’t have the leverage or the inclination to demand AT&T have Bridge testing done before the PlayBook’s launch, it meant even if you had a BlackBerry, but were on America’s second-largest carrier, the RIM’s tablet wouldn’t be a real option for you.

In any case, RIM has been promising that stand-alone, Bridge-free PIM apps are due soon, but considering their handset delays, I wouldn’t be surprised if the LTE PlayBook was pushed back along with any major OS upgrades.

In any case, AT&T users can hit up App World to download Bridge.

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