Analysts voice doubts over Blackberry Playbook price, app choice and e-mail

As Research in Motion (RIM)'s Blackberry Playbook goes on sale in the UK, analysts remain sceptical of the prospects of RIM's first tablet among business users.

As Research in Motion (RIM)'s Blackberry Playbook goes on sale in the UK, analysts remain sceptical of the prospects of RIM's first tablet among business users.

Reviewers report misgivings over the Blackberry Playbook's high price, limited application ecosystem and lack of native e-mail client.

A day before the Playbook's UK launch on the 16th June 2011, the seven-inch tablet has gone on sale at London's Selfridges department store through Carphone Warehouse.

The Playbook features a dual-core 1GHz processor, HD front and rear-facing cameras as well as multitasking and Adobe Flash support.

Announcing the device in September 2010, Research in Motion president, Mike Lazaridis, hailed the Playbook as the best "professional-grade" tablet. But analysts are sceptical about the Playbook's popularity with corporate employees and enterprise IT managers.

Adam Leach, analyst at Ovum, said, despite the prevalence of Blackberry smartphones within corporate environments, the Playbook will be difficult for enterprise IT to manage alongside existing Blackberry smartphones.


Management difficulties

"The Playbook doesn't support traditional Blackberry services that are inherent within the Blackberry smartphone platform," said Adam Leach.

"The Playbook uses RIM's QNX [operating system (OS)] platform, which isn't like managing Blackberry OS through Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES). The way you manage the device and provision e-mail on the device will be different," Leach said.

This may improve when RIM migrates all Blackberry devices to its QNX OS, currently only used for its Playbook tablet, in 2012 to create a consistent platform and user experience.


Lack of native e-mail app

Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, said the tablet's popularity will be limited due to the lack of an e-mail client.

"You need to have BES and pair the smartphone with the tablet in order to use e-mail because there isn't native e-mail support yet," said Roberta Cozza.

The native e-mail app is expected to be included in an OS update later this year.

Cozza added that RIM needs to grow its developer community and create more than 30,000 apps before it can compete with Apple and attract business buyers.

"We need to see an ecosystem of apps and services to grow around the product," Cozza said.


Too high in price

From 16th June 2011, the device will go on sale through Dixons Retail, owner of Currys and PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Insight UK and Phones 4u, priced from £399 for a 16GB model - the same price as an Apple iPad.

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, said: "As it needs a device to pair with, this is for people who really like their Blackberry and want to have an iPad with the controls associated with business devices."

He said the price point is likely to be too high to tempt businesses to buy the tablet to complement existing devices. This means the Playbook may be bought as a replacement for a laptop, which is unlikely as businesses can buy laptops cheaply.

"Companies get good corporate deals on laptops," said Rob Bamforth.

Read why the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) developed a HTML5 app for the Blackberry Playbook >>

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