RIM is officially in the tablet business. The company’s PlayBook tablet is designed to take on Apple’s iPad and the growing number of other competitors that are trying to capitalize on customer interest in slates. RIM’s PlayBook boasts a 7-inch display, WiFi connectivity and a dual-core processor. According to the company, it will start selling the device early next year.
But whether or not the RIM PlayBook will be able to stand up against Apple’s iPad and the other competition is an entirely different question. The device might seem like a winner at first, but further inspection reveals that it might not have what it takes. And over time, it’s entirely possible that the tablet will falter as both consumers and enterprise customers find more viable options elsewhere. Here are 10 reasons why the RIM PlayBook will falter.
1. The screen size
RIM‘s decision to offer a7-inch display in its PlayBook is a suspect one. Consumers are happy with the size of the iPad’s 9.7-inch display, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. When comparing the iPad to the PlayBook, folks might realize that, for productivity and entertainment purposes, the larger display is more viable. And that will only hurt the PlayBook’s sales.
2. Is it for consumers or the enterprise?
RIM didn’t make an obvious case for whether the PlayBook is designed for the corporate world or consumers. Although the company said the PlayBook is for corporate users, it also showed how it handles pictures and allows users to enjoy entertainment-two things that most companies don’t want their employees to engage in during the workday. Going forward, RIM needs to fully determine which market it wants to exploit and focus all of its efforts there-or else.
3. The marketing needs to be fixed
RIM’s introductory video to the PlayBook, which shows how the tablet works, just doesn’t explain to the average customer why they should want this device over another. It starts out with consumer-focused features and ends with enterprise-focused features. That alone is enough to confuse folks. But the video also failed to capture the real functionality of the device. Unless RIM finds a way to improve its marketing for the PlayBook, it’s hard to see how the device will be successful.
4. Where’s the 3G?
RIM said its tablet won’t feature 3G at first, but it plans to bring that functionality to the device at a later time. What a mistake. If RIM really wants to target corporate customers, having 3G connectivity is a necessity. And by not offering it out of the gate, it’s leaving one of the main selling points out of the device. RIM needs to rethink its 3G strategy. If it doesn’t, its tablet could be doomed before it even hits store shelves.
Lack of Apps Could Hold Back PlayBook
5. The unproven track record
RIM is a wildly successful smartphone company. But when it comes to delivering an experience that customers really want, the company has been falling short as of late. In fact, its Storm2 smartphone is arguably one of the worst touch-screen-based devices on the market from a major company. RIM has a lot to prove with its PlayBook. And if that device doesn’t deliver, potential buyers will be quick to pass it by.
6. Browsing plays a role
RIM’s browsers have been abysmal over the years. As most folks who own BlackBerry devices know, trying to surf through a Web page on the company’s smartphones is far more difficult than it should be. RIM has promised that the browsing experience on the PlayBook will be much better, but that assurance won’t be enough. The PlayBook needs to be the standard by which all other tablet browsers are judged. That’s simply the only way that customers will be happy with RIM’s offering.
7. It’s all about apps
Customers want applications for their tablets. They want to be able to take a product and extend its functionality with programs created by third parties. That could be a problem for RIM, since the company has had a somewhat contentious relationship with developers over the past couple years. RIM needs to bring a slew of apps to its tablet. If it doesn’t, or if it comes down too hard on developers, its tablet might not be around for long.
8. The timing is off
RIM has made a mistake by planning to release its tablet at the beginning of 2011. Not only does it give competing devices time to capitalize on the holiday shopping season, but it also puts RIM’s tablet in the danger zone of being overlooked due to a new iPad. Most believe Apple will release a new version of its iPad sometime before the middle of next year. And Steve Jobs will likely announce it weeks before that. If that happens too closely to the PlayBook’s launch, RIM’s tablet could see its sales stunted by growing desire for Apple’s offering.
9. The Cisco Cius looms
If RIM decides that the enterprise really is the market that it needs to capitalize on, the company will find a major competitor already there: the Cisco Cius. Announced earlier this year, the Cius will run Android OS and integrate with existing Cisco infrastructure. It was the first corporate-focused tablet announced, and it will likely be available in early 2011. And by the looks of things, it has some real promise. RIM will have to contend with that competitor.
10. The iPad is still here
Let’s not forget that the iPad is still on store shelves and it’s the device that the vast majority of tablet customers seem to want. Realizing that, it’s likely that most folks will still opt for Apple’s device as memories of the PlayBook fade through the holiday shopping season. The iPad gets the most attention, and it’s already available. That simply doesn’t bode well for RIM or any of its other competitors that are trying desperately to capitalize on the market Apple has carved out.