PlayBook matches iPad on paper, but that's it

Ronny Kerr · March 23, 2011 · Short URL:

RIM's first foray into tablet computers is a perfect match for Apple based on pricing and specs

If you’re not one of the million (and counting) happy purchasers of Apple’s new iPad 2, then maybe you’re holding out for one of the more anticipated tablet competitors, the RIM PlayBook.

RIM just announced this week that the PlayBook will ship on April 19 and will start at $499 for the baseline model. Specifically, the Wi-Fi-only PlayBook $499 for the 16GB, $599 for the 32GB and $699 for the 64GB--the exact same pricing model for the Wi-Fi-only iPad 2. Based on this, we can expect a 3G or 4G-enabled PlayBook to match pricing for the 3G iPad 2.

The tablet will first hit shelves in the U.S. and Canada and pre-orders are available now through Best Buy.

As we published two weeks ago, here are side-by-side specs of the two destined-to-be-forever-compared tablets:

BlackBerry Playbook

  •     7 inch display, 1024 x 600 screen resolution
  •     1 GHz dual-core processor
  •     1 GB RAM
  •     Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G
  •     3 MP high-definition forward-facing camera
  •     5 MP high-definition rear-facing camera

Apple iPad 2

  •     9.7 inch display, 1024x768 resolution
  •     1 GHz dual-core processor
  •     (unknown memory)
  •     Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G
  •     (no data on forward-facing camera)
  •     720p rear-facing camera (about 0.7 MP)

RIM, like any other tablet developer, will face an uphill battle going against Apple, whose first iPad sold just under 15 million tablets in its lifetime; CEO Steve Jobs said that's more than all other tablet PC sales combined. Depending on which analyst you ask, the PlayBook could sell anywhere between 150,000 and 300,000 units between April 19 and the end of May. Either way you look at it, it will fall far short of sales of the iPad 2, which supposedly hit one million in its first weekend.

On paper, however, the two tablets aren’t so different (as seen in the specs above). The most obvious difference is the size of the display; with a mobile device like a tablet, however, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. The PlayBook could win over customers who want something more portable.

And, of course, BlackBerry users could be enticed to stick with a company whose products they’re already familiar with.

When it comes down to it, it’s Apple’s slick marketing skills that will keep it a bar above the competition. Until somebody else can crack into that “magic,” the iPad is king.

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