What the PlayBook Means for RIM

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Where do I even begin?

Earlier today RIM revealed its tablet and throughout co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’ presentation I couldn’t help but wonder how many catchphrases or buzz words would be thrown out. I lost count minutes after the PlayBook was officially unveiled.

The PlayBook seems impressive with “features” like Flash, a 7-inch display and true multitasking but is that enough?

Well, let’s start with the PlayBook’s hardware:

The 7-inch LCD with 1024×600 screen resolution means things will look smooth and sharp and not pixilated. But what will Apple do in January with the iPad 2?

A rear 5-megapixel camera and front-facing 3-megapixel mean the PlayBook will handle video conferencing like a champ. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the rear camera can shoot video, but the Galaxy Tab can do that and the iPad 2 will presumably come with dual cameras, too.

Processor and Memory
Powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor means the PlayBook may actually handle multitasking the way it’s meant to. The PlayBook will presumably work and handle applications like your typical BlackBerry device with things running in the background like a real computer. But the real key here is the gig of RAM that will actually allow the PlayBook to run at full throttle.

What about the software?

Sure, it’s enterprise ready and it should be considering it’s a RIM device but it won’t and can’t compete with Apple or the iPad. Not that the iPad is the standard or benchmark that tablet makers should adhere to but it’s sold over a bajillion units, so Apple must be doing something right.

If the BlackBerry Tablet OS is anything like BlackBerry 6, the PlayBook will fail in a number of ways. However, QNX, a recently acquired software company, is the backbone of the tablet’s OS and that could be a good thing. It supports all manner of platforms, like WebKit, BlackBerry 6, OpenGL, SMP, POSIX OS, Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe AIR, etc. mean the developers can port Java-based BB 6 apps easily and support real games thanks to OpenGL. Support for Adobe Flash and AIR could mean big things for the PlayBook if the hardware can handle it.

BB Tablet OS looks polished and looks a lot like Palm’s webOS multitasking cards. However, BlackBerry 6 looked great on video, too, but we all know how that turned out.

PlayBook and BlackBerry devices will seamlessly interact with each other, so you needn’t worry about syncing issues. The PlayBook will also connect to your BlackBerry device over Bluetooth for data and display content on a larger screen.

And now the bad.

RIM is notorious for announcing upcoming devices too early and falling flat on their face when said product manages to reach the market. The PlayBook won’t be available until early 2011 and we all know who will be updating their tablet around the same time.

There’s no doubt that the PlayBook is perfect for enterprise and the suits that mostly use RIM’s devices but how will it fare in the consumer world? Will it attract Apple eco-system dwellers? What about the other specs, like internal memory? How much will it cost? And, ultimately, will the UI be usable? Apps?

RIM has never been able to break from its enterprise roots to really knock one out of the park for the average Joe. Given RIM’s track record, we doubt the PlayBook will be it but stranger things have happened.

More on Techland:

Rumor: BlackBerry Tablet to be Unveiled Next Week?

RIM Stokes BlackBerry Tablet Rumors with BlackPad.com