RIM is touting its PlayBook tablet's video capabilities ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show. The PlayBook will battle the iPad and Android tablets for market share.
Research In Motion continues to position its upcoming
PlayBook as more capable than the Apple iPad of providing users with a full
Web-browsing experience. A new RIM blog post
and video hints at how the BlackBerry maker will eventually market its tablet.
The PlayBook will almost certainly be on display during this week's Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas, although its actual release date remains
RIM is depending on the PlayBook to make a splash in the
burgeoning tablet market, and perhaps reinvigorate the company's fortunes in
the mobile space. Although the company's BlackBerry franchise has long been a
stalwart for business users, aggressive smartphone pushes by both Apple and
Google have steadily eroded its market-share in the United
States over the past few quarters. The PlayBook would not only expand
RIM's ecosystem in an entirely new direction, but potentially reinvigorate a
brand that, despite robust sales and profits, is perceived by some as
"When we posted the BlackBerry PlayBook vs. iPad comparison
video, many Inside BlackBerry readers posted comments suggesting a variety of
different Websites they'd like to see on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet," reads a
Jan. 4 posting on Inside BlackBerry
, RIM's official BlackBerry blog. "We
took that to heart in our new video."
The clip itself demonstrates the PlayBook's
video-playback support for both HTML5 and Adobe Flash
, in the context of
YouTube and Facebook. The 7-inch PlayBook supports the full desktop versions of
those Websites, and the off-screen narrator emphasizes the device's ability to
display videos in high fidelity and games without
Although RIM has never formally announced a release date for
the device, revenues for the PlayBook won't appear on balance sheets until the
first quarter of the company's fiscal year 2012,
or March 2011. That suggests a launch sometime after February, which it means
that RIM will enter a tablet market crowded with Android competitors and
perhaps the next-generation iPad
Despite that competition, RIM remains publicly bullish on
their tablet's prospects. "I think the PlayBook clearly sets the bar way higher
on performance, and you're going to see more," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM,
told analysts and media during the company's Dec. 16 earnings call. "I think
with the PlayBook ... we're going to set the new standard on performance and
tools, very powerful tools. And we're growing very, very fast."
Growing or not, RIM faces its biggest competition in the
tablet arena from Apple, whose iPad has sold roughly 1 million units per month
since its April 2010 release. Apple CEO Steve
Jobs has made no secret of his disdain for Adobe Flash, which remains
unsupported by his mobile products; sensing a competitive opening, both RIM and
manufacturers such as Samsung have touted their tablets as Flash-supportive
and, therefore, capable of displaying more of the Web's rich content.
Aimed at both the enterprise and consumer markets, the
PlayBook also features front- and rear-facing cameras for video conferencing,
multitasking support, and the ability to sync with users' BlackBerry smartphones.
December survey by research firm ChangeWave
suggested that 14 percent of
corporations are anticipating a tablet purchase in the first quarter of 2011, with
9 percent of those considering the RIM PlayBook. That was good enough to tie
RIM with Dell, with both companies lagging behind the iPad.
As succeeding generations of rival tablets integrate new
hardware and software features, though, it remains to be seen whether the
PlayBook-seamless video playback or no-can make a definitive market statement.