The Playbook won’t reach mainstream consumers until April 19, a solid three weeks away, but RIM’s already getting slammed for their initial foray into tablet-dom. Analysts are concerned with the company’s giddy enthusiasm over the Playbook’s launch–can the device even make a splash in an iPad-dominated world? But even if the Playbook turns out to be a dud, it doesn’t necessarily augur RIM’s demise.
In any case, RIM is so enthused about the Playbook’s potential that they released a highly optimistic earnings outlook for 2012–predictions that appear to have backfired. Markets in both the U.S. and Canada, RIM’s homeland, saw huge selloffs late last week, dropping the stock by more than 10 percent.
Despite that selling spree, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie continues to proclaim the Playbook from every mountaintop. “We are extremely excited about our smartphone, tablet and platform roadmaps,” he said in a statement. And the details about the Playbook, while sketchy, are nothing to balk at–RIM’s tablet sports a processor that rivals the iPad 2, but with a more travel-friendly 7-inch form factor.
There’s no doubt we’ll need an incubation period to warm up to the Playbook once it’s in stores. And sure, some features sound a bit wonky, like the tablet’s purported ability to run Blackberry and Android apps. But in the interest of full compatibility, the non-native apps will run in virtual environments, requiring an “app player.” Analysts are worried RIM is banking too much on the cross-OS capability, leading to a nightmare for the company if the technology’s a bust.
Blackberry has long been the dominant standard in mobile email, and they practically wrote the book on smartphones, launching the first BlackBerry with calling capabilities in 2002, a full half-decade before we met the iPhone. Be that as it may, RIM needs to be careful, because the stakes are higher now. Then again, the tablet market is flourishing, and there’s always room for one more. As long as the Playbook’s potentially lofty functionality comes to fruition, RIM should emerge just fine–and who knows, perhaps even reach their profit goals.