Clash of the titans
Research in Motion (RIM) has announced that its eagerly anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will be available for the same price as Apple's iPad 2.
While Apple announced the pricing of its tablet in the UK yesterday and its second generation tablet has been a runaway success in the US, this is the first time a tablet rival has decided to do a direct Apple price match.
Sticking with dollars, the PlayBook will therefore have a base price of $499 when it goes in sale in the US on 19 April, The New York Times reported.
However unlike Apple, its success probably will not just rely on consumers queuing round the block to get their hands on the tablet, but just like the original BlackBerry models, will depend on how popular it is with companies and governments that typically buy in bulk at discount prices, according to analysts.
Tony Cripps, an analyst with Ovum, told the newspaper: "Maybe ‘PlayBook' is a misnomer. RIM would be crazy not to maximize its advantages in the enterprise market."
Of course BlackBerrys have been the device of choice for many businesses for years due to thier extra security features and RIM has apparently been careful to maintain carefully cultivated relationships with IT departments in big companies and governments.
One analyst with ABI Research, called Jeff Orr, reportedly said that RIM has been chatting with big customers about its tablet for months.
"They're playing to a market where they definitely have a closer relationship than Apple," he apparently added.
Indeed Mike Abramsky, an equity analyst with RBC Capital Market reportedly reckons that sales of tablets to businesses will make up between 30 and 40 percent of all slate sales by the close of 2012. Furthermore, he apparently thinks that many businesses will pick the PlayBook because they are used to using BlackBerry smartphones.
While the price of the iPad 2 and PlayBook will be identical, their spec is not and will appeal to different people. For example, the iPad 2 has a 9.7 inch display compared to the PlayBook's more diminutive 7 inch screen, but the PlayBook can display web pages that rely on Adobe Flash and touts a better camera.
The Playbook will apparently only be available in a Wi-Fi version from its launch until a more advanced and pricier model can be accessed via Sprint's network this summer. The company apparently added that the tablet will be available in a bulkier 32BG version for $599 and 64GB for $699.
It will be interesting to note how other tablets fare that are not priced the same as Apple's tablet, which has so far been a barometer in the market. Motorola's Xoom tablet and Samsung's Galaxy Tab set customer's back more than Apple's comparable offering, while HP has yet to announce the price of its TouchPad slate.