RIM is pricing the PlayBook in ways that create a head-to-head comparison with the Apple iPad, along with setting a release date of April 19.
ORLANDO, Fla.-Research In Motion has spent the past few
months ramping up its 7-inch PlayBook tablet for its big debut-all while
keeping two particularly vital bits of information, the release date and
pricing scheme, under wraps.
Now, as other manufacturers use this week's CTIA conference
to unveil their own entries into the tablet market, RIM has decided to reveal
that information at last: the PlayBook will hit store shelves April 19, in the
United States and Canada, with a starting price of $499 for the 16GB model. The
32GB model will retail for $599, and the 64GB for $699.
That places the PlayBook in roughly the middle ground,
pricing-wise, of the red-hot-but-still-nascent tablet market. It may
also be a
wise move on RIM's part: the Motorola Xoom, a powerful 10.1-inch tablet
dual-core processors and the tablet-optimized Google Android 3.0
(codenamed Honeycomb), has received early criticism for costing $799
willing to pony up for a two-year contract, at $20 per month, can pay
Indeed, the PlayBook's pricing scheme places it toe-to-toe
against Apple's iPad 2, whose 16GB version retails for $499, 32GB for $599 and
64GB for $699.
Unlike the swarm of Android-based tablets hitting the
market, the PlayBook relies on a proprietary operating system developed
in-house by RIM, using assets acquired during the April 2010 takeover of QNX
With its dual-core processor and features such as
multitasking, the PlayBook is targeted not only at consumers, but also
BlackBerry's traditional business audience. During a handful of meetings with
eWEEK throughout January, RIM executives suggested they were still tweaking the
tablet's software for better battery life, while insisting that it would
eventually provide "a full day's work" on a single charge.
In a bid to further appeal to that audience, RIM recently
signed an agreement with Microsoft that will give the PlayBook the ability to
port and display Office 365 data from any user's BlackBerry, via a tethering
service called BlackBerry Bridge. Office 365's cloud-based subscription model
allows organizations to stay up-to-date with the latest versions of Microsoft
Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. Also as part of
that agreement, RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise will apparently connect "cloud to
cloud" with Microsoft's data centers to host Office 365 data on users'