RIM Takes A Page From The Apple ‘PlayBook’; Introduces Tablet Plus Ads

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Credit: RIM

In Research In Motion’s quest to keep up with the Apple’s and Google’s of the world, the company has unveiled its response to the iPad — the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The device is being positioned as the first professional tablet, meaning that it is a productivity device unlike a lot of entertainment-driven tablets hitting the market today. It has a 7-inch screen, full Flash and HTML5 for a complete web experience, and front and rear cameras. It initially will have WiFi and pair with a BlackBerry device, but eventually there will be 3G and 4G models. No word on price, but it is expected to be for sale in the U.S. in early 2011 with devices being shipped internationally in Q2. Video down below.

In addition, the company also unveiled at the company’s developer conference in San Francisco a new social networking platform, leveraging its popular Messenger platform, and new advertising services.

RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) was expected to release a tablet today as part of its developer conference, and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis didn’t waste anytime getting to the punch. Since we aren’t there to witness the events unfold in person, we’ve turned to the trusty CrackBerry.com web site for breaking details.

The device is expected to be “enterprise ready,” meaning that it can support the BlackBerry Enterprise Server from the start. The hardware comes loaded with a 1 gigahertz dual core processor, and has 1 gigabyte of RAM. This devices is clearly being pitched for the professional, and is trying hard to separate itself from the iPad, which to date has been a very consumer-centric “nice to have” kind of product. (More specs on the device here.)

Just as early reports indicated, the inventor of the tablet is from a startup RIM acquired called QNX. The platform is being hyped as good for heavy lifting with the same software being used in casinos and other large operations.

RIM announced a number of other services and features today that will help developers make apps for its platform, and make it more attractive to consumers:

Advertising: RIM was rumored to be interested in buying Millennial Media, but without an acquisition in hand, it has gone ahead and launched an advertising service that integrates a number of ad platforms into the BlackBerry Application Platform. The long list of advertising networks includes Jumptap, Amobee, Millennial and Mojiva. Others are coming soon including Placecast and Where. Obviously, the point is to help developers make money on BlackBerry apps. As part of this, RIM has also partnered with Webtrends to provide developers and publishers a free analytics and measurement services. (Release.)

BlackBerry Messenger as a Social Platform: Now developers can build apps that can use aspects of the popular BlackBerry Messenger service. RIM says with BBM, chatting or multi-player functionality can be enabled within games, multimedia apps and location-based services. (Release.)

Other dev tools: One of the biggest complaints about BlackBerry is how difficult it is to develop apps for the platform. To that end, it has launched a number of new tools, which it is making available to the open source community, to make that process easier. New tools are aimed at both consumer and enterprise focused applications. Releases here and here.

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Alex Arthur

RIM seems to understand that the Playbook needs to be a complete platform in order to compete. Apps and ads cannot be overlooked, or this tablet won’t get off the ground competing with iPad.

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