RIM's PlayBook tablet explains several of its recent acquisitions. For example: RIM's April acquisition of QNX Software Systems, from Harman International. The PlayBook operating system is based on QNX technology -- not the BlackBerry 6 OS that RIM launched this summer on the BlackBerry Torch. The PlayBook also offers full office document support, which makes more sense of RIM's recent acquisitions of DataViz and Documents to Go, according to a Sept. 27 report from ABI Research.
The consumer-geared Apple iPad has been the tablet to beat -- or at least match -- but creating an "iPad killer" is hardly a goal with which RIM needs to trouble itself, says analyst Ken Hyers, with Technology Business Research. RIM's target audience for PlayBook is enterprises running the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. "[RIM] really has the market to itself," Hyers tells CIO Insight sister publication eWEEK. "There's little chance, in my opinion, that this will be a runaway best seller, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be. If it catches on with the enterprise as a genuine productivity tool in the same way that the BlackBerry has, it will be a positive development for RIM.
Analyst Neil Mawston, with Strategy Analytics, likewise sees RIM differentiating the PlayBook by positioning it for the enterprise space -- but such a strategy won't necessarily equal blockbuster sales, Mawston warns. "This first-generation PlayBook should be popular among BlackBerry smartphone fans but it may struggle to sell in big volumes, due to it having no 3G connectivity to attract mobile operator subsidies, using a new operating system that is unfamiliar to many developers and consumers, and due to relatively limited app store support," Mawston tells eWEEK.
Promising to deliver "the real, full web experience" to mobile users, the PlayBook supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR and HTML-5. In a prepared statement released Sept. 27, RIM notes: "For more than a decade, the mobile industry has worked to bridge the gap between the 'real web' and mobile devices through various apps and technologies and, in fact, a significant number of mobile apps today still simply serve as a proxy for web content that already exists on the web. The BlackBerry PlayBook closes that gap and brings the real, full web experience to mobile users while also opening new and more exciting opportunities for developers and content publishers."