News Analysis: RIM's new tablet diverges from Apple's consumer-focused iPad in that it attempts to prove that there will be a robust market for tablet applications in the enterprise.
The key question that seems to be cropping up amongst
those of us who pontificate about mobile devices is how much market share RIM's
is likely to steal from Apple's iPad. So I'll answer that question
right up front-not much.
But that doesn't mean the PlayBook won't sell well,
because I think it will. It just means that the PlayBook and the iPad aren't
really competing in the same game.
Yes, I understand that they're both tablets and that you
can do a lot of cool things on them that you can't do with a smartphone or even
with a laptop computer. And, yes, I understand that the iPad proved that
tablets were a viable format. But what the iPad didn't do was prove that it
could be a compelling enterprise computing or communications platform. While
the iPad does include some business-oriented functions, and while it can be made
fairly secure, it doesn't match BlackBerry Enterprise Server in meeting the
critical needs of the enterprise.
And, of course, this is why the PlayBook has a very good
chance at succeeding
in its intended market, regardless of what happens to
the iPad. The PlayBook, quite frankly, isn't an iPad wanna-be; it's a business
tablet that will support some consumer functions, which is exactly the opposite
of what the iPad is designed to be.
When you look at RIM's
presentation on the PlayBook
, you'll notice that it is filled with
business-related cues, ranging from the front page of The Wall Street Journal
and a PowerPoint presentation, to the
United Airlines flight-confirmation page. There are no games and no music chat,
for instance. In addition, while the PlayBook does support the ability to play
music, and while it does support two cameras, one on the front and one on the
rear, they're presented as solutions to video conferencing or imaging.
Clearly, while RIM wants you to see exactly how cool its tablet
is, they don't want you to think of it as frivolous. The PlayBook-despite the
name-isn't designed for play at all. In fact, I would suggest that the name
refers to the complex play books that National Football League teams use to
prepare their game plans, rather than to some kind of appliance for playing
While there are a lot of things that the PlayBook doesn't
do, there are also some things that only the PlayBook-out of all the tablets
being launched right now-can do. Most notably it includes support for Blackberry
Enterprise Server. No other tablet offers that. The device also supports the
full gamut of 802.11 flavors, so it should work in most offices just