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Analysts Debate RIM PlayBook Future


— Research In Motion laid
out a credible game plan for asserting itself in
the tablet market by focusing on enterprise and
professional users, adding features unavailable
on Apple’s iPad, and adopting a completely
new OS developed by QNX Software Systems,
which it purchased earlier this year, multiple analysts

Some also noted, however, that RIM still has
a long way to go to execute its ideas and prove
it has a viable product. RIM showed videos of
the device’s capabilities during a presentation at
its developers’ conference but didn’t connect a
PlayBook to a projector to do a live demonstration,
they noted.

RIM’s PlayBook, touted as enterprise-ready
and “the world’s first professional tablet,” is due
to ship sometime in early 2011 in the U.S.

“RIM gets some credit for targeting an enterprise
instead of consumer user,” said Carl D.
Howe, Yankee Group director of Anywhere Consumer
Research. “If they try going for the consumer
out of the gate, they’ll run right up against
iPad. By targeting enterprises, a traditional RIM
stronghold, they have a better shot at getting
some adoption before going up against Apple.”
RIM’s next target will be professionals, he said.

RIM, however, must prove that a 7-inch tablet is a better
form factor than iPad’s 10-inch one, Howe said. “Like it or
not, Apple has presently set the standard for tablets. By
introducing a smaller device that may be more expensive
because of its enterprise thrust, RIM may have made their
sales job tougher than it needed to be.”

Howe also pointed out that the company hasn’t made
its job easier by calling the device PlayBook if the device’s
initial target is enterprise and other business users.

For his part, Ross Rubin, executive director, NPD, said
the PlayBook will launch “with a strong synergistic relationship
with the BlackBerry smartphone,” pointing to the
PlayBook’s ability to tether via Bluetooth to BlackBerry
smartphones to connect to the Internet and to display the
smartphone’s content on a larger screen.

“RIM has always envisioned the BlackBerry as an alternative
to notebooks, but they ran into screen-size and battery-
life constraints,” he said in citing the potential for the
PlayBook. Three of the four major carriers support Black-
Berry tethering to laptops, he noted, pointing to RIM’s
compression of data signals to conserve bandwidth. .

An independent analyst, Carmi Levy, an independenttechnology
analyst, noted the PlayBook includes several
features that the iPad lacks, including HDMI outputs to
connect to a display, USB port, front-facing camera for video
conferencing, and support for the widely used Adobe
Flash web-video format.

The PlayBook is compatible out of the box with Black-
Berry Enterprise Server. It lacks embedded cellular but
incorporates Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/a/n to access the Internet.
It also pairs with a BlackBerry smartphone via a secure
Bluetooth connection to access the Internet as well as
display smartphone content. Sometime in the future, the
company said it intends to offer 3G and 4G models.

The 0.9-pound multitasking device packs a 1GHz dualcore
processor and 7-inch 1,024 by 600 WSVGA capacitive
touchscreen with full multi-touch and gesture support
in a 5.1-inch by 7.6-inch by 0.4-inch chassis. Other features
include 1GB RAM; dual HD camera/camcorders
(front-facing 3-megapixel camera and 5-megapixel rearfacing
camera) for video conferencing; 1080p HD video
recording, HDMI output; and support for HTML-5, Adobe
Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe Mobile AIR.