Research In Motion's PlayBook may be the savior for the company's flagging smartphone sales in the United States, some analysts posit. Then again, maybe not.
With Research In Motion's share of the U.S. smartphone market eroding and
Apple poaching key sales employees, analysts look to the PlayBook tablet to
save RIM from being slowly squeezed to death in the mobile market.
its PlayBook Sept. 27 at its annual DevCon conference as
an enterprise-oriented alternative to Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab, an
Android 2.2-based tablet.
Based on RIM's new QNX operating system instead of BlackBerry OS, the 7-inch
PlayBook supports Adobe Flash and HTML5, multitasking, and high-definition
video, and sports front and rear cameras for video conferencing.
Noting that shares of RIM stock have increased 21 percent since the company
unveiled the PlayBook, Susquehanna Research analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro boosted
his target price for RIM to $45 from $38 and said he expects RIM to sell 8
million PlayBook tablets at $459 per unit by 2012.
Boosts to RIM's stock share surely can't be from its BlackBerry smartphone
While RIM is still the U.S.
smartphone leader, Apple's iPhone and handsets based on Android have been
nipping at its share. RIM saw
its third-quarter shipment share slip to 22 percent from 28
percent in the second quarter, according to NPD Group.
Fidacaro seconded this in his Nov. 30 research note, adding that while he
sees solid shipment trends for the BlackBerry Torch, 3G Curve and Style,
"we continue to flag RIM's deteriorating smartphone market share in the U.S."
It certainly doesn't help that Apple is stealing
RIM's corporate sales team members for both the iPhone
and iPad, or that Apple CEO Steve Jobs brazenly called out
RIM for being whipped by his own company.
Expecting the PlayBook as a savior for RIM is no sure bet. There are many mitigating
factors, not the least of which is that the device will be entering something
of a Wild West market for tablets when it arrives next year.
While the iPad commands more than 90 percent of the market, Fidacaro expects
more than 50 tablets to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show alone in
January. Expect an iPad 2, dozens of Android tablets, and WebOS and Windows 7
tablets in 2011.
Furthering dampening hopes around the PlayBook is the fact that it will not
have a 3G option at launch. Without a data plan from a carrier, akin to what
Apple and Samsung have done with their tablets, it's fair to question RIM's
Adding insult to injury, JP Morgan & Chase is giving iPads
to its corporate investment bankers, normally RIM's
target audience with the BlackBerry.
"Since I still can't find a single person that actually wants a
Playbook, I'm sure not counting on that product," industry analyst Rob
Enderle told eWEEK.
"Apple defined the tablet space. RIM hasn't been very competitive with
smartphones against Apple and they had a massive lead. With tablets they are
starting behind. In a race if a runner can't stay ahead of the competition when
given a substantial lead, there is no chance they can win if starting well
What does this all add up to? Enderle said RIM is executing
a five-year plan to fail in the market and is on year 2 of that plan.