When rumors bubbled up last week that Research In Motion was set to unveil a tablet computer, talk turned to how the device would battle Apple's iPad and devices based on Google's Android operating system.
It turns out that the PlayBook-as the world learned it was called after its launch at the BlackBerry Developer Conference Sept. 27-is more of a rival to a desktop or notebook in the business sector.
Indeed, the 7-inch device, expected to be available in the United States early next year, is not a BlackBerry OS-flavored version of today's media-focused tablets, such as the popular iPad or the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab.
RIM is not positioning its tablet as a Netflix-craving machine geared for mass video consumption, but as a device fitted with "true multitasking, high performance multimedia, and advanced security features."
The tablet's pair of embedded cameras will enable smooth video conferencing. The PlayBook is also compatible with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, enabling all manner of business apps to run on the device.
Enterprise-grade security is all well and good, but a tablet still demands content and applications.
To wit: RIM, at the launch event, also unveiled its BlackBerry Messenger Social Platform, BlackBerry WebWorks Application Platform, a new Enterprise Application Development Platform and BlackBerry Advertising Services to augment its application ecosystem. Unfortunately, these are nascent platforms and products.
While RIM said it sports 35 million BlackBerry App World customers-accounting for 1.5 million downloads per day-the lack of a ready-made application and content ecosystem to support the machine (the iPad launched with several content partners) is problematic.