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Can the PlayBook serve two masters?

Matt Hamblen, Computerworld | April 15, 2011
The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which goes on sale Tuesday starting at $499, is performing a balancing act between two worlds -- enterprise customers and consumers.

Burden said some consumers will be stunned by the PlayBook's performance with its 1GHz dual-core processor. While no one would want to watch two movies streamed to a tablet at once, the PlayBook can do so "without a hiccup," he said, while other tablets on the market can't.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, added that RIM understands the importance of serving both masters -- business and consumer.

"PlayBook will eventually play to consumers, but my expectation is that early implementers will be business users who are leveraging the BlackBerry BES infrastructure," Gold said. "This first version of the PlayBook does not have all the bells and whistles that consumers want, with lots of content and apps, but the next version should have more. I think business users will be OK with the tethering to the BlackBerry smartphone, at least for now. And they can use some of the BlackBerry apps they already use, which is good."

Ted Schadler and Sarah Rotman, both analysts at Forrester Research, said RIM's marketing to both consumers and business users must be "flawless" and warned that if it's not, RIM will have "an expensive product failure on its hands."

RIM sees that it needs more PlayBook apps to appeal to consumers, Schadler said, and to be successful, it must show how it will add more apps and other features in its second version.

"RIM has a powerful consumer brand and 20,000 retail outlets, and they know they need to appeal to consumers," he said. "But if they sell PlayBook to the enterprise and don't have the consumer apps also, then business users will just have two tablets -- a PlayBook and an an iPad."


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