Tim Renowden, analyst, Ovum.
AUSTRALIA: The BlackBerry PlayBook certainly looks like a strong contender against Apple’s iPad, at least amongst RIM’s core enterprise customers.
RIM’s dominance of the enterprise smartphone market has begun to come under pressure from Apple and a range of Android competitors, and since the iPad’s launch there has been a lot of discussion about the role of tablet devices in enterprise and the adoption of consumer devices by business users.
The PlayBook is aimed squarely at enterprise users, but RIM has very deliberately included high-end multimedia and gaming capabilities to attract consumers – and of course business users are also consumers.
The PlayBook’s big advantage over the iPad for enterprise customers is that many businesses already have BlackBerry smartphones deployed, and are using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server product to manage their connectivity.
Enterprise IT managers understand the security and device management advantages that BlackBerry has over Apple, and RIM will maintain these advantages with the PlayBook, which is fully compatible with existing BlackBerry services.
The danger for RIM is that Apple already has a big head start in the tablet market, and the buzz around its apps and ‘cool factor’ is significant. Many business users will want to bring their own iPads into the work environment, so this is going to be a long and hard fought battle for RIM, but an important one as mobile devices become an increasingly important part of doing business.