RIM Dives into the Tablet Market with the Playbook

The faltering Blackberry maker RIM (Research in Motion) has thrown their hat in the tablet ring with the release of their new Playbook.  As more firms and individuals move away from the recently ubiquitous “Crackberry” for business use, the addition of a tablet to their product stable is a move intended to keep RIM relevant in the market. But will it work?

The PlayBook runs on RIM’s new BlackBerry Tablet OS based on QNX technology to support multi-processing, multitasking applications.

The litany of technical specifications include a 7” LCD display with 1024 x 600 resolution and a multi-touch capacitive screen; 1Ghz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM; 802.11 a/b/g/n compatibility; 3MP forward facing and 5MP rear facing cameras supporting 1080p HD video, H.264, MPEG4, WMV, and HDMI.  The OS also supports a rapid development environment, POSIX OS, SMP, Open GL, BlackBerry 6, WebKit, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Mobile AIR.  The PlayBook can also wirelessly connect to BlackBerry smartphones to access e-mail, calendars, address books, task lists, and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM™ – the BlackBerry instant messaging application).

Measuring 5.1” high, 7.6” wide, and only 0.4” deep with a weight of 0.9lbs it is smaller and lighter than either the Apple iPAD2 or Motorola Xoom.  With a retail Price of $499.99 it is also less expensive.

One of the interesting capabilities of the PlayBook within an enterprise is what RIM calls BlackBerry Balance.  Balance is a new feature soon to be released in BES.  It essentially creates dual personas within the device, effectively isolating work from play.  By using BlackBerry Balance an enterprise can protect and keep separate those applications and communiqués that belong to the business while allowing employees to use the device for personal applications (Facebook, etc.), as well.  This can be particularly beneficial to organizations that allow employees to acquire and use their own devices (smartphones or tablets) since the company partition and information can be deleted at any time without affecting the personal data or apps on the device.

RIM expects additional enterprise management capabilities to be incorporated into the PlayBook and other BlackBerry offerings in the not too distant future.