Analysts Discuss RIM PlayBook Challenges
IMS Research analyst Anna Hunt said RIM could find it challenging to introduce a new tablet without an extensive library of content and apps. "RIM does have a strong brand and cool appeal, which will benefit the company in the tablet space, but they will have to do something impressive in terms of managed services and content to win share away from iPad and Android tablets," Hunt said.Fidacaro, who said last week that he expects 2.5 million PlayBooks to be built for the fourth quarter, said upgrading RIM's 50 million-plus subscribers to the new platform could take at least two years. Moreover, the PlayBook's distribution will initially be cramped, as carriers will shy away from a device devoid of 3G. The PlayBook supports Bluetooth and tethers to a BlackBerry smartphone, "which provides a low incentive for the carriers to push this device, in our view," Fidacaro said in a Sept. 28 research note. That will provide iPad and Android tablets ample time to build momentum against RIM. It's clear an air of uncertainty hovers over RIM, which is trying to keep users on its mobile platforms at a time when growth for Apple's iOS for the iPad and iPhone is robust and Android-based smartphones and tablets are sprouting up everywhere you look. Still, RIM's ace in the hole has always been its BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which has helped the company place BlackBerry smartphones into thousands of businesses that demand optimal security. If the company can position the PlayBook the same way, it could soar to dominance in North American businesses, beating out more consumer- and media-centric devices such as the iPad, Galaxy Tab and others.
Financial analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro, from Susquehanna Research, agreed. He said while the RIM tablet is a positive for a company, there will be a major transition period to the new QNX operating system, which could result in a delay as programmers build a critical mass of applications for it.