So I was wrong…mostly wrong at least. Contrary to my weekly rants against Research in Motion, it looks like RIM has managed to produce what looks to be a capable business-oriented tablet device. The device, again contrary to much of my speculation, will not be called the “BlackPad” or “Surfbook,” with RIM going with the action-oriented name, “Playbook” instead. The only prediction I did manage to get right; it will not be a standalone device, but instead one that connects to 3G/4G networks via your Blackberry.
Obvious sports metaphors aside, I was relieved yesterday to see that with the Playbook RIM has chosen to stay within the confines of what it knows best, business communications, instead of trying to step outside its comfort zone to produce a consumer oriented tablet device that would have been bound to fail when pitted against the wildly popular iPad.
While I’m hesitant to say whether or not the Playbook will reverse RIM’s recent struggles, one thing is clear, RIM has a plan to build on its existing customer base, and that, my friends, is a recipe for success.
The device is slated for release early in the new year, which may seem like an odd time since it misses out completely on the Christmas tech rush. But don’t forget folks, the Playbook isn’t designed to be a consumer device, so it’ll arrive just in time for companies looking to make those last minute tech purchases as their fiscal year wraps up.
Upon unveiling the 7-inch tablet, RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis noted that the device is “enterprise ready” and designed to fit into the company’s existing communication infrastructure. But just how well will the Playbook make business communications? With RIM set to begin beta testing with select developers and corporate clients in the next little while, it may be a few months before we have the answer to that question.
But enough of that, here’s the specs that were released at yesterday’s unveiling. The Playbook sports the industry standard 1GHz dual-core chip and also boasts 1GB of built-in RAM. Add to that the fact that the Playbook is HTML 5 ready, has both a front and rear facing HD cameras, contains both HDMI and USB ports, and runs a specialized version of RIM’s Blackberry software that enables multitasking and 1080p video playback and what you get is a very capable mobile business machine.
The only downside, and the only part of my extensive speculation that I seem to have got right, is that the device appears to not have a 3G or 4G cellular antenna, meaning that users would be expected to tether the device to their Blackberry via Bluetooth when out of Wi-Fi range.
But what about all the news surrounding the Blackpad or the Surfbook? In my opinion, these tablets are not dead, but instead alternative consumer oriented devices that we may very well see from RIM in the near future. Regardless of their actual existence or any future success, however, I think the Playbook is the right move for RIM, enabling the mobile giant to build on its already massive consumer base to grow its new tablet brand.