RIM goes toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPad

Steve Dinneen
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BLACKBERRY maker Research In Motion (RIM) finally launched its much anticipated tablet PC this week.

In his keynote speech, chief executive Mike Lazaridis shied away from direct comparisons with Apple. That, however, hasn’t stopped the technology world from staring straight at the elephant in the room: can the Playbook compete with the iPad?

At first glance, it looks like it can. Its processor and RAM are both superior, despite its smaller size. This would seem to be good news for users dealing with a lot of video or multi-tasking between apps. It has been positioned closer to BlackBerry’s core enterprise market, rather than the consumer-facing iPad, which could reel in the massive following the smartphone commands.

Goldman Sachs issued a cautiously optimistic note yesterday in which it said: “RIM’s Playbook tablet surprised us by being positioned for enterprise and by having a robust set of specs. This could allow RIM to offer a differentiated product to the iPad.”

But Morgan Stanley was less enthusiastic, saying: “We believe the Playbook is well suited for enterprise, but could be far less successful with consumers.” The market seems to have reacted with a similar degree of scepticism, with RIM’s stock falling yesterday.

The Canadian firm lacks the cult following of Apple and cannot hope to emulate its rival’s overnight success, especially given its Playbook is competing in a market with two other lauded devices – the iPad and Samgung’s Galaxy Tab. However, if it can win over business users it could be a sleeper success.

Pricing is likely to be the key and Lazaridis has hinted the device will undercut the iPad, with figures yet to be unveiled. This fight is far from decided.