The BlackBerry Playbook is set to come out, officially signaling RIM’s (Research in Motion) entry into the tablet market.
The Playbook is supposed to be a main rival to the iPad, however, since Apple owns and develops in-house all the technology that enables the long battery life and superior experience that iPad users enjoy, it will be at least initially difficult for RIM to square off against the giant.
One of the main problems with tablet technology so far—other than Apple—is the short battery life that comes with using Flash on the device. Flash can consume almost half the battery life. That’s why both Apple and Google are moving toward HTML5. Adobe knows it; they’re working on making Flash more compatible for mobile devices.
Meanwhile, the only other serious competition for the iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, gets 6 hours in battery life (as opposed to the iPad’s 10 hours) and got a hundred dollar price cut today. Samsung’s tablet is sold through Verizon, and now you can get it for $499.99.
This type of move in the market is usually good for consumers, because no doubt Apple will have to start thinking about lowering the iPad price too to keep dominating the market. The iPad range is pretty steep, from $499.99 for a 16GB model with no 3G access, to $829.99 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and 3G access.
Although the Blackberry Playbook isn’t out yet, there have already been rumors about its delay due to short battery life issues—well short of even Samsung Galaxy’s 6 hours. Throw into the mix that RIM is not developing the Playbook to run on their Blackberry OS, but rather on an OS based on the software of a newly acquired company, QNX. This OS was not originally developed for use on mobile devices, but for automobiles.
To make matter worse, app developers are questioning RIM’s wisdom in supporting 2 different OS’s because they already have to configure their products to work on both Apple and Google devices. RIM suffers in the app department as it is. They simply don’t have enough apps to tempt users, thus they also have less users. Now app developers have to contend with developing their products to work on two different devices (phone and tablet) with 2 different OS’s—from the same company. This isn’t going to help RIM grow in the app department.
Supposedly the QNX OS is going to replace the Blackberry OS on their phones in the future as well. RIM has also issued a response to rumors about the alleged puny battery life on the Playbook. They are convinced that a device in pre-beta stage that wasn’t power optimized got into the hands of an outsider, which caused the rumor about inefficient battery consumption.
If this isn’t just a reputation management campaign designed to minimize damage to consumer curiosity about the device before its launch, then perhaps RIM has already ironed out the wrinkles on the Playbook. With industry forecasters predicting a price point of $500 for the device (a claim that is bolstered by the fact that Verizon cut the price of the Galaxy), the Blackberry Playbook may be well positioned to compete against both Samsung and Apple.
Only time will tell.