Digital Tablet competition is about to heat up even further. Last week, Research in Motion (RIM) and Best Buy announced the pre-orders, pricing and launch date for the much-anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will come in three models, featuring 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage at $499, $599 and $699 respectively and is scheduled to be available on April 19 from all Best Buy stores and Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. Customers in the U.S. can place their orders beginning this week by visiting their local Best Buy, Best Buy Mobile or Future Shop store, or by ordering on-line at BestBuy.com. The company also announced plans to make the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet available in more than 20,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada. The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will be available in three models and will feature a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $499 in the U.S.
"Previews of the BlackBerry PlayBook have generated tremendous excitement and we know that customers are eager to get their hands on one," said Craig McLennan, Regional Managing Director, North America, Research In Motion. "We share that excitement and we are very pleased to announce that customers can begin placing their orders with Best Buy today." BlackBerry PlayBook is the world’s first professional-grade tablet. It features an ultra-portable design and delivers industry leading performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, true multitasking, HD multimedia, advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.
Industry professionals seem equally pleased about RIM's market entry into the tablet arena. "I am very excited to see if the Playbook is actually a Workhorse hidden in a Tablet," says L. Martin Johnson Pratt, a New York-based social media strategist. "I feel that the issue that will make or break it is whether you can really use it to do work from the office on it versus just use it to read books or magazines. Most BB users use their Blackberry for communication. The way that it looks, finally, BlackBerry users will have something to compete with workwise. I will be closely observing how the apps development process will work. BB Developers are getting one shipped to them for free as a part of the Free BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Offer from RIM. So RIM seems to be willing to become a serious competitor to Andriod and their open app development process."
Investment analysts predict that Playbook sales will only contribute marginally to RIM's sales and earnings this year, though the product does represent an opportunity for them. RIM's quarterly report will be released today and will likely show the company to be on track even though there is concern that key components for the Playbook come from Japan and, given the recent catastrophe in that region, supply availability could become a concern for product orders.
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