RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook NYC launch party, a business affair?

RIM held its official launch party for the BlackBerry PlayBook last night in downtown Manhattan, New York. Though I had some trouble finding the building, I managed to stop by and snap a few pictures of the event, which was little more than a party complete with booze and the smallest hors d’oeuvres I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, these were small. At one point they passed out ice cream cones that were smaller than a bottle of 5 Hour Energy. At one point I had a full snack container with 5 pieces of popcorn in it.) With free booze and a lot of BlackBerry PlayBooks, the event was pleasant, but showed off some of RIM’s chief problems right now.

Though RIM is obviously trying to appeal much more to the consumer market with the PlayBook, it doesn’t quite know how to do it yet. Though this was a casual media event, there was a somewhat discordant mix of consumer tech media (like me), large business media like Reuters, and banks/investors. RIM is trying to push the PlayBook as the best business tablet, but wants to please potential iPad customers as well, launching it with built in games like Tetris and Need For Speed. Sometimes it works, but most of the time (like last night), everyone feels a bit out of place. There was a stage in the room, but it wasn’t used. A basketball player and fashion star (I wasn’t sure who they were) dropped by, as did RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, but none got a formal introduction; they just talked to a few people and disappeared back into the party ether from which they emerged.

We will have a PlayBook review up soon. Until then, check out these pics from the event or read up on our PlayBook impressions from CES.

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