RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook faces significant challenges in the tablet market. Will sales promotions and a software update help it succeed?
Motion is offering its business customers three BlackBerry PlayBook tablets for
the price of two, as it tries to spur adoption of its QNX-based tablet.
faces an uphill battle when it comes to tablets. Apple's iPad dominates the
space, in terms of market share, and a variety of Google Android devices
continue to trickle onto store shelves. By the end of 2012, Microsoft's Windows
8 will most likely begin appearing on tablets, creating a new competitive
wrinkle in the process.
RIM isn't the
only company struggling up that slope. In the third quarter, Motorola Mobility reported
of some 100,000 Motorola Xoom tablets, not exactly the greatest
result for a device initially positioned as an iPad killer.
But RIM faces
a host of issues beyond anemic tablet sales. Global outages earlier in October
left some BlackBerry users without services for days, leading to class-action
lawsuits filed this week in California and Canada. In addition, RIM has racked
up noticeable revenue declines on its balance sheets, as the company wrestles
to transition from its current BlackBerry devices to new QNX-powered
"superphones" due sometime in the next few quarters.
As part of its
general "refresh," RIM plans on delivering a long-awaited software update to
the PlayBook in February 2012. In an Oct. 25 posting on the
official BlackBerry blog
, David Smith, RIM's senior vice president of
BlackBerry PlayBook, described the decision to wait that long on the PlayBook
OS 2.0 launch as a "difficult" one, driven by a need to be "confident we have
fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end users."
will add integrated email, a "new video store," calendar and contact applications,
and better tethering between a tablet and a user's BlackBerry. On the
enterprise side of things, RIM is apparently tweaking the PlayBook's
manageability options and enterprise application deployment. The updated
software will also include a separate area within BlackBerry App World for
sales promotions, combined with upgraded software, improve the tablet's market
presence? RIM must hope so-but with Apple and Google buttressing their
respective mobile software's enterprise capability, and Microsoft prepping its
big tablet play, that hill is looking very steep indeed.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter