RIM to Challenge iPad 2 with PlayBook Tablet Starting April 19th
Apple's chunk of the tablet market share may take another hit next month as Research in Motion readies it's answer to the iPad. On April 19th, the popular BlackBerry smartphone maker will introduce (to both US and Canadian buyers) the long-awaited PlayBook tablet through major retailers like Best Buy, which similarly offers first and second generation iPads.
RIM is promoting the PlayBook as the first-ever “professional-grade” tablet computer. Despite the haughty tone RIM is already striking in its promotional material, the company is not looking to best Apple in terms of pricing. In fact, the PlayBook starts in price at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. Sound familiar? That's what Apple is charging for the low-end iPad 2 model. Additionally, the PlayBook's 32GB and 64GB models will retail for $599 and $699, respectively.
According to RIM, the PlayBook boasts a 1GHz dual-core processor, 7” 1024x600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen, and, of course, the Blackberry Tablet OS. Additionally, there are dual cameras (rear and front facing) that can shoot full 1080p footage (yes, that's an improvement over the iPad 2's video potential). Incredibly, the PlayBook's retail push will be even bigger than the iPad's (both generations, too). 20,000 stores in the US and Canada will sell the PlayBook. In addition to the aforementioned Best Buy, you can find the RIM tablet at Staples, RadioShack, Office Depot, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless. By comparison, the iPad 2 is presently available in only 10,000 stores.
Alkesh Shah, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc., tells Bloomberg that RIM may sell 250,000 PlayBooks in its first quarter and more than five million during the full fiscal year. “RIM doesn’t have the cult-like following of Apple so I doubt there will be lines outside the stores,” Shah says. “But feedback has been positive from people who’ve seen it and I think it’ll be a product that starts with slower sales than the iPad 2 but may exceed expectations by year-end.”