Research in Motion(RIM) just proved it can innovate with the PlayBook, a major new platform that vaults BlackBerry out of its doldrums and potentially back into the top rank of hot consumer technologies.
The 7-inch PlayBook is a radical break for a company that’s been used to evolutionary steps, and some of its specs beat the competing iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab easily. The PlayBook’s dual-core, 1-Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, for instance, is faster than anything the competition has to offer.
The reviews about new device is just starting to trickle in:
Morgan Stanley: We believe the PlayBook is well suited for enterprise, but could be far less successful with consumers. Between the crowded tablet market, the potential for a major OS overhaul across the entire platform with all the risks that entails, and the continued share loss in North America in both device shipments and subscribers, we remain Underweight.
Goldman Sachs: RIM’s PlayBook tablet surprised us by being positioned for the enterprise, rather than the consumer, and by having a robust set of specs including a dual-core 1GHz processor and 2 HD cameras. This could allow RIM to offer a differentiated product rather than a “me too” to the iPad. The PlayBook offers a unique use case by tethering to the BlackBerry over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth as a secure extension to the BlackBerry in the enterprise that can serve as a display or a projector. While the Wi-Fi tethering eliminates the expense of a separate data plan, it also reduces the incentive for carrier subsidies. In addition, the Q1 launch is a qtr behind expectations.
Deutsche Bank: At the start of their developer conference, RIM announced a new device called the PlayBook, their take on the tablet. The device is set to ship in [first quarter of 2011], missing the Holiday Shopping Season. Our first impression is the device is comparable to all the other tablets coming on the market, but runs a new proprietary RIM OS.
Maynard Um, UBS Securities: Sees a “mixed message” — the device is claimed as an enterprise tool, but “many of the features highlighted during the promotional video and on the company’s website include consumer focused features such as a rich multi-media experience, video gaming, family video chat, Flash videos, etc.” The Playbook may be viewed as late, “particularly with an iPad refresh likely in [first half of 2011.]
Robert Cihra, Caris & Co.: He’s reluctant to predict too much in the way of actual sales. ” We have really not yet added any meaningful tablet contribution to our RIMM estimates, preferring to view the product as something to work from and additive to RIMM’s smartphone opportunity. Just a 5% attach-rate to RIMM’s existing >50mm user subscriber base could drive 2.5mm tablet units, but we still prefer to keep the contribution as upside potential, and either way recognize this pales in contrast to our existing forecast for Apple to ship 26mm iPads in CY11.
Nick Farrell adds: The Blackberry Playbook might sport a dull name, but it at least it has not been called the Blackpad, which was one of the suggested ideas. There are microHDMI and microUSB connections and it runs the Webkit browser with … Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL and Java. The PlayBook is expected to be available in retail outlets and other channels in the United States in early 2011 with rollouts in other international markets beginning in the second half of next year.
And Ed Hansberry has more on QNX: QNX [is] in the Unix family of operating systems. That may be a smart play on RIM’s part … the Blackberry OS is getting old and it may be time for a rewrite to compete … with the likes of more modern platforms like iOS and Android. Palm and Microsoft started over for the same reasons. It will be interesting to see if Blackberry 7 or 8 has its roots in the QNX operating system lightened up a bit for the smartphone form factor.