Blackberry’s new Playbook Tablet Isn’t the greatest entry into the Tablet Market

The anticipated tablet from RIM is due out this coming Tuesday, April 19. This is Blackberry’s response to Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet computer market. But the early product reviews have not been overly gracious to this new contender. However, before getting into the nitty gritty problems, are there are some glaring ones, let’s take a quick at a few of the highlights:

1 GHz dual core processor
1080p HD Video
3 MP high definition forward facing camera
5 MP high definition rear facing camera
Full Adobe Flash 10.1 enabled
Built In Support for HTML 5

So, with the exception of Adobe Flash support and better front and rear cameras than the iPad 2, the other major features are on par with the market leader. The other cool feature of the Playbook is the ability to show a high definition image on a connected screen, while doing a different task on the Playbook screen. However, the few advantages end there.

Blackberry Playbook

Now would be a good time to get into the nitty gritty. Let’s begin by the biggest one. But it sure does look nice, doesn’t it?

The Blackberry Playbook doesn’t provide email service unless it’s hooked up to a Blackberry phone. Huh?! A Blackberry mobile device that needs to be tethered to another Blackberry mobile device just to get RIM’s bread and butter service — enterprise software? You’ve got to be kidding me. Yes, the co-CEOs, Balsillie and Lazaridis, did say this service would come out later, but when you’ve got once chance to have a coming out gala and wow the tech world, why in the world would you exclude the most obvious use of a business focused device?

So, why would RIM launch a product that’s missing its signature piece? The general concensus is that it didn’t want to delay its market launch. That seems like a pretty sour justification to me. Launching a product prematurely is much worse than being late to market, in my book. A well made product can make up lost sales by strong word of mouth and a solid grasp of features that the consumers want. What doesn’t work is a promise to provide basic features at some undetermined time and us the product with a crutch. As much as I have liked Blackberry products in the past, this would not be on my list of “must have” items coming out of the gate.

The other issues about the Playbook is the size and retail price. It has a 7″ screen size putting in line with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. But it is smaller than the 9.7″ screen on the iPad/iPad 2. However, the starting price point is on par with the 16GB version of the iPad 2, at $499. What gives? Why enter a market with a smaller device, low app store choices, a lack of built-in email, and an inability to connect to mobile phone networks but still price it at the same entry price as the market leader?

I think RIM really took a gamble here by releasing the Playbook as they did. We’ll see how it fares in the first quarter or two. I’m sure there will be the die hard Blackberry users that will be buying it and tethering it to their Blackberry phones, but I don’t think this current version will catch on as much as RIM would like to think it will.

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