Research In Motion (RIM) has announced its entry into the tablet computer industry with the new professional-grade BlackBerry PlayBook. RIM demonstrated their new seven-inch tablet computer at the RIM BlackBerry developer conference in San Francisco Monday, September 27. The PlayBook should be available in the United States in the early part of 2011. Its target audience is business users as well as casual consumers.
The BlackBerry PlayBook, with its one GHz dual-core processor and one GB of RAM, is ready to take on the iPad’s one-core processor and 256 MB of RAM. A multitouch display with a resolution of 1024×600 will be a part of the lightweight 0.9-pound PlayBook. It will also feature two cameras that can record HD video and take still photos. The rear-facing camera is five-megapixels and the front-facing camera has a three-megapixel lens. Currently the iPad weighs in at 1.5 pounds and has no cameras.
RIM is releasing a new operating system for the PlayBook, the BlackBerry Tablet OS, designed by QNX Software Systems. This operating system can handle multiple processes written in a variety of codes. With this additional flexibility, RIM hopes to attract a greater number of developers by affording them the flexibility to create applications in Flash, Java, Adobe AIR, and others. The downside is that the 10,000 BlackBerry Smartphone apps will not work on the PlayBook. Developing apps will be crucial for the PlayBook to be a contender with the iPad which has 25,000 iPad specific apps as well as access to the 250,000 apps developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The first PlayBooks will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access. Versions capable of 3G and 4G connectivity are expected to be available in later models. The 3G version of the iPad is already capable of accessing 3G networks.
RIM has not revealed the battery life for the PlayBook. In order to challenge the iPad it needs to come close or better than the iPad’s ten-hour battery performance. Price is another detail that has been left out of the BlackBerry PlayBook discussion and will be a determining factor in which tablet computer consumers purchase.