RIM Tablet vs. Apple iPad: 10 Features RIM Needs to Succeed

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-09-22

RIM Tablet vs. Apple iPad: 10 Features RIM Needs to Succeed

Rumors continue to circulate that Research In Motion will unveil a tablet perhaps before the end of September or early October. For now, details on the rumored tablet are scant, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the device will include a 7-inch display, WiFi connectivity and a new operating system that RIM has yet to unveil. There is no word on pricing or availability. 

At this point, the report is nothing more than a rumor. There also is both a chance that RIM won't announce a new tablet or that all the details the Wall Street Journal has published are wrong. Simply put, until RIM makes a stand one way or another, all the talk about what a RIM tablet might look like is pure speculation. 

But if RIM does, in fact, plan to introduce a tablet, there are some features the device must have. And there are things that RIM will need to keep out of its tablet if it is to compete with Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and other competitors that are coming along. 

Read on to find out which features RIM should be adding to its tablet to make the device a success. 

1. Better software 

The last thing RIM should do is offer its BlackBerry OS 6 on the tablet. The software is an iterative update over BlackBerry OS 5 that in no way will captivate consumers looking for an iPad-like experience. RIM needs something new, and it must be something that will put it on an even playing field with Apple. BlackBerry OS 6 just isn't that solution. 

2. A big display 

Hopefully the reports claiming RIM will be offering a tablet with a 7-inch display are wrong. The iPad has shown that big displays matter. It might be difficult for RIM to sell consumers its model if they are able to compare the RIM tablet to an iPad sitting on another shelf. The first thing shoppers will notice is that Apple's product has a noticeably larger display. RIM must keep that in mind. 

3. Real enterprise integration 

The Cisco Cius, which will run Android OS, is scheduled to be available to corporate customers at the beginning of 2011. On paper, the device looks like a winner for the enterprise. RIM cannot afford to allow Cisco to beat it to the corporate world. The consumer space might be important, but RIM relies upon the enterprise to be successful. If it lets the Cius beat its own tablet in the corporate world, the chances of RIM succeeding in the tablet space will be much lower. 

4. A much better app store 

RIM's BlackBerry App World pales in comparison to just about every other mobile marketplace in the space. Currently, Apple's store, for example, has more than 250,000 applications. RIM's App World has a fraction of that. The applications that it does offer in no way match the offerings in competing markets. If RIM's tablet is to succeed, viable applications will need to accompany it. 

RIMs Tablet Has to Hit Price, Feature Sweet Spot


5. Affordable 3G connectivity 

When Apple announced the iPad 3G, it became clear that the future of mobile productivity would rely upon always-on connectivity. Realizing that, RIM cannot afford to ditch 3G in its tablet. Current reports say that the company might opt against offering 3G, but that would be a mistake. Consumers and especially enterprise customers want to have access to the Web wherever they go. That can only be possible with the help of 3G. 

6. Tethering functionality 

RIM is one of the leaders in tethered connectivity. And the company could go a long way in improving its tablet's value proposition by making a tethering option available on its tablet. Admittedly, such an option would only be viable if the company offered 3G connectivity. But if it does, giving users the option to use the tablet's 3G connection to access the Web on other devices could be the feature RIM needs to attract customers. 

7. Some design quality 

RIM isn't all that proficient at designing good-looking hardware. In fact, a quick comparison between its smartphones and those of Apple's and Motorola's reveals that the company is somewhat lost when it comes to product design. But that can't be an excuse in the tablet space. A key component in tablet-buying decisions is design. If a tablet is good-looking, people will be more likely to buy it. If it's ugly, it won't attract many buyers. 

8. A workable touch screen 

RIM's BlackBerry Storm2 delivers one of the worst touch-screen experiences in the smartphone market. If RIM delivers a similar experience in its tablet, the chances of that device even coming close to competing with Apple's iPad are slim. Hopefully, RIM has realized that and will deliver a viable touch screen. But if it doesn't, and consumers don't feel that it's intuitive enough, it's hard to see why anyone would opt for a RIM tablet over the iPad. 

9. A precise vision 

RIM has had some trouble over the past few years deciding whether it's an enterprise-focused company or a consumer-focused firm. And it has tried to be both at different times. It can't commit the same mistake with its tablet. RIM needs to determine which market will suit its product best and stick with it. After all, that's how the company became so successful in the first place. 

10. An affordable price 

One of the most important factors in the success of a RIM tablet is its price. If the device is too expensive, RIM will lose customers. But if it's priced well for the value it offers, RIM could have a winner on its hands. Value means the difference between success and failure in the tablet market. The iPad's value justifies its price. The Dell Streak's value does not. It's up to RIM to be more Apple-like than Dell-like with its own tablet.


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