According to a Bloomberg report, Research In Motion (RIM) plans to sell its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in early 2011 for less than $500, which can be viewed as an attempt to sweep the legs out from under Apple's iPad.
The cheapest iPad available runs $499, which gets you the Wi-Fi only version with 16GB of storage, or you could spend as much as $829 for the flagship model with 64GB and 3G baked in. Samsung's Galaxy Tab so far is the only tablet to really challenge the iPad, but it too is pricey, especially if you don't commit to a 2-year service agreement.
First run PlayBook devices will only come with Wi-Fi, but its sub-$500 price tag could spark a price war among tablet makers, of which there looks to be many.
"There's going to be a lot of tablets on the market so I think pricing is going to start coming down," said Matt Thorton, an analyst at Avian Securities LLC in Boston.
Like the Galaxy Tab, RIM's PlayBook is a 7-inch slate, compared to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. It will come ARMed with a Cortex A9 dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz, 1GB of RAM, 3MP front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera, and 16GB or 32GB of storage. Other features include HDMI, microUSB jack, 1080p playback (via HDMI), and Bluetooth.
The hits just keep on coming for RIM as Dell has apparently decided to encourage their employees to use phones the company actually makes. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 25,000 Dell employees will be moved to devices like the Windows Phone 7 equipped Venue Pro, and various Android handsets. Like most business decisions, this isn't just about keeping up appearances. The move will let Dell eliminate their Blackberry servers, saving about 25% in mobile costs.
Dell is in talks with T-Mobile to purchase phone plans in bulk for employees. The Dell Venue Pro runs on T-Mobile's AWS 3G band. RIM for their part is not amused, calling the change an attempt to get "Free publicity". RIM would contend we have cunningly fallen into their trap. A RIM spokes person went on to say he expects Dell to lose money in upkeep costs.
You can't blame Dell for looking to use their own products now that they actually have some. Companies without mobile products might not be so quick to leave, but the market is shifting. Could this be just the start of enterprise finally ditching RIM?
Market analytics firm NPD has just finished culling the last quarter's data, and the results are great news for one search company out of Mountain View. Apparently, the Android operating system is now far and away, the fastest selling mobile platform for smart phones. In the third quarter, Android took a 44% share of all sales, Apple took 23%, and RIM only had 22%.
Just as startling as the current numbers, is the change from last year. Android was at a mere 3% in Q3 2009. Blackberry was at 45% and Apple was at 39%. Clearly, Android is taking off like a rocket, and the competition is feeling the hurt. RIM's once massive sales are slumping as users finish out their contracts and move to other platforms. Apple might not have taken a big hit, but the platform's growth has effectively been stopped.
Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S, Droid X and Evo 4G have been big sellers. Do you think a Verizon iPhone would turn the tables on the little green robot?
When RIM introduced the BlackBerry PlayBook, a real live demo of the device was conspicuously absent. At today's Adobe MAX conference, RIM put some of these doubt to rest by showing off the tablet in all its QNX-running glory. CEO Mike Lazaridis demoed the device live for the assembled developers. He showed off not just the device's multitasking interface, but also its imbedded Flash Player.
Lazaridis loaded up the full YouTube page and proceeded to play a video in HD resolution (over Wi Fi of course). Playback was surprisingly smooth and the page was still scrolling accurately while playing Flash. The basic message of the demo was a not too well veiled swipe at Apple. "We're not trying to dumb down the Internet for a small mobile device," said Lazaridis.
It is encouraging to see RIM actually has a product stable enough to show off on the big screen at MAX. Only time will tell if consumers or businesses will be interested in the device. Would you buy one, and what should the price be?
Apple has been breathing down RIM’s throat for quite a while now. But with the latter not doing enough to hold onto its lead, it was always just a matter of time before Apple leapt past RIM in the global smartphone market.
Interestingly enough, while Strategy Analytics’ report only reinforces Apple’s own claim of having overtaken RIM – an assertion RIM quickly rubbished, its shipment estimate is slightly greater than Apple’s.
RIM is now free to bathe in iPhone’s slipstream, until even Android leapfrogs its flagship Blackberry smartphones, or until it stages a remarkable comeback.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs sure ruffled some feathers with his statements on yesterday's earnings call. RIM is just the latest to respond to some of the assertions Steve Jobs made. RIM CEO Jim Balsillie posted a rebuttal on the RIM blog that covered a few points. First, Balsillie contended that a 7-inch tablet will work for consumers just fine. Jobs claimed the users would have to "sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size" to use a 7-inch tablet. RIM also reminded us that their PlayBook will have Adobe Flash support.
RIM's other beef with Jobs revolved around the Apple claim that they had passed Blackberry in sales. Balsillie claims that Jobs was comparing a time they knew BlackBerry sales would be weak, leaving out the higher demand month of September in RIM's numbers. We may have to wait to see if an outside group can compare overall sales from the same period to settle this. In the meantime, we await the next company to launch a counterattack at Steve Jobs.
The rumors have been swirling for months that BlackBerry maker RIM would be launching a tablet device. Today at the RIM developer event, that rumor became reality with the introduction of the BlackBerry PlayBook. This device will sport some serious specs and an all new RIM operating system based on the QNX system.
The PlayBook will run on an ARM Cortex A9 dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and will have a 7-inch 1024 x 600 capacitive touch screen. There will be both HDMI and USB ports, with the former capable of full 1080p output. In the camera department, we're looking at a 3 MP front facing, and 5 MP rear facing sensor. There will be A/B/G/N Wi-Fi, but the PlayBook will be capable of Bluetooth tethering to Blackberrys for internet connections as well.
This new QNX-derived OS will have slick webOS-like app switching, and a WebKit browser with Flash. In teh media department, there will be support for MP3, AAC, and WMA for audio; video support comes in the form of H.264, MPEG, DivX, and WMV. No exact release date or price was given. Just that a launch was expected in the coming weeks. A mention was made of working with developers, so hopefully, we can expect some sort of app ecosystem here.
Given the plethora of tablets around the corner (and by around the corner, we mean by the end of the year and into 2011), we reckon a handful of manufacturers will adopt "pad" in the product's name, like the WePad. It won't take long for the market to become muddled with various 'pads,' making it even harder to stand out from the competition.
Whether or not that played a part in RIM's recent decision to drop the BlackPad designation from its upcoming tablet, we don't know. What we do know is that RIM is looking for a new name, and it may have found one.
The smartphone maker applied for a trademark on the name SurfBook, which we think has a nicer ring to it than BlackPad. Whether or not they stick with it remains to be seen, but it appears RIM still wants to make sure its BlackBerry branding remains tied in, so perhaps it will be known as the BlackBerry SurfBook.
No one's heard a peep from RIM about the possibility of a third iteration of the BlackBerry Storm line of touch screen smartphones. But here we have a fairly convincing shot of what is apparently just that. The new handset will apparently have a slightly larger 3.7-inch display, 8GB of built-in storage, and possible a mobile hotspot feature.
The phone will most likely be a Verizon release and could hit stores by the end of the year. This would fit with the previous release schedule, and would give RIM time to get the new BB6 operating system on the phone. This possible Storm 3 has an optical trackpad, which is different from previous Storm models. RIM did not include the click screen SurePress technology in the recently released Torch, but it is unclear if the Storm line will continue to use it. Does this handset interest you at all?
Verizon and Research In Motion (RIM) jointly announced the upcoming availability of the BlackBerry Curve 3G on Verizon's network. Sales will begin on September 16, 2010 (this Thursday) for just $30, albeit after a $100 mail-in-rebate and new two-year service agreement.
The newest Curve will ship with a "stylish new design," 35-key full QWERTY backlit keyboard, dedicated media keys, 512MB flash memory, microSD/SDHC card slot with support for up to 32GB memory cards, built-in GPS with support for geo-tagging and location-based apps, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, camera with video recording, and various other odds and ends, all of which you can view here.
On the OS side, the BlackBerry Curve 3G will come with BlackBerry 5 and Verizon/RIM ensure that it's also BlackBerry 6 ready, which is expected to ship in the coming months.