In an interview with Bloomberg this week, Research In MotionLtd. co-CEO Jim Balsillie said his company will price its upcoming PlayBooktablet at “under” US$500.
But with an entry level iPad already on the market at $499,some bloggers questioned whether Balsillie’s price point hint will do enough toexcite potential buyers — especially enterprises customers.
Chad Berndtson, a blogger with CRN, wrote that Balsillie’s“vague pronouncement” still leaves more questions than answers, such as how thePlayBook will help win over enterprise business users in the market for atablet.
“RIM seems to be resting on that appeal, as well aspositioning PlayBook as a best-in-class option for developers and a showpiecedevice for lovers of Adobe Flash,” he wrote. “But despite its platform andprocessing punch, PlayBook appears to lack the connectivity options of rivalslike the Samsung Tab, and given the long-awaited updates to iOS contained inApple’s 4.2 release, much of what the iPad lacked in comparative featuresappears to have been resolved.”
ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan was not surprised at the news. Hewrote that any tablet that doesn’t start at $499 or less is doomed in today’smarket.
“I’ve been pretty vocal that Android tablets need to sell ata discount—especially with 7-inch screens. RIM, which will sell the PlayBook asan enterprise device, may have more leeway on pricing, but not much,” he wrote.“After all, RIM’s PlayBook has a 7-inch screen.”
The bigger question for Dignan going forward, he said, iswhether RIM’s use of Adobe Flash and AIR will be a success for the company.
“RIM will rely heavily on Adobe’s software to deliver appsand other platforms,” he wrote. “Without Flash, RIM’s Playbook might as well bea Frisbee.”
“The downside to this equation, however, is this: If theFlash implementation on the Playbook is botched by RIM, Adobe will take a hit.RIM has been so outspoken about the PlayBook’s ability to handle Flash that itwon’t be the only one dinged if things go wrong.”
Thinq.co.uk blogger Stewart Meagher also picked up on thistheme. He wrote that despite the PlayBook’s supposed enterprise pedigree, RIMseems to be making too big of a deal over the fact that it can play Flashvideos and animation.
“We might be wrong here, but we don’t reckon being able towatch YouTube videos of piano-playing cats is an essential requirement in theaverage boardroom,” he wrote.
Meagher added that RIM will have an uphill battle to makeany significant dent in Apple’s lead, and will need to significantly undercutthe iPad’s $499 starting price in order to steal sales from the Cupertino, Calif.-basedcompany.
“The iPad, which was dismissed by most as a faddy toy for aniche market, is increasingly being embraced by enterprise, much to theannoyance of the dozens of OEMs who thought they could undermine the device bycramming a half-baked version of Windows or Android,” he wrote.
Mont Cessna with WirelessGround was more optimistic andexcited about Balsillie’s announcement, but didn’t shy away from pointing outthe gamble RIM is taking with the AIR platform.
“The company is pushing the AIR platform as a way to quicklybuild or port apps to the PlayBook,” he wrote. “If AIR falters or ultimately isunpopular among developers, RIM could find itself in quite a dilemma. Adobe’ssecurity track record on Flash—which powers much of AIR—could be anotherweakness that RIM will have to manage.”
Cessna added that one big security breach in Flash might beall it takes for the PlayBook to lose its credibility from businesses.