Rumor has it BlackBerry will finally release its 4G PlayBook tablet later this month. What remains to be seen is whether they’ll be any market for it, though.
BlackBerry, which was very recently the dominant brand among smartphone users in the enterprise, has had a rough go of it of late: Amidst huge losses on its latest quarterly earnings statement, BlackBerry’s parent company, Research in Motion, announced it would delay the rollout of its newest line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones until 2013, and also cut more than 5,000 employees from its workforce.
So it’s natural for people to speculate whether BlackBerry’s long-awaited 4G PlayBook tablet can be the company’s saving grace. With Apple’s iPad (and upcoming “iPad Mini“) — as well as Google’s Nexus, Microsoft’s upcoming Surface, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, as well as all kinds of other ultrabooks and rugged tablets — all making inroads into the consumer (and enterprise) tablet market, it may well be that BlackBerry is simply too late to the party.
On the other hand, however, BlackBerry has a few things going for it: The PlayBook is a seven-inch tablet, which appears to be the preferred size among many consumers. And it’ll be 4G-equipped — something neither the Kindle nor Nexus are.
Further, BlackBerry has managed to stay relevant even amidst its recent downslide, thanks at least in part to the slightly slower transition time it takes businesses to swap out older phones, compared with the consumer market. In other words: All those businesses using company-issued BlackBerrys were on one- or two-year contracts, meaning that many still haven’t left RIM for an iPhone or iPad yet, even if they’d like to. And that level of familiarity within the enterprise could ultimately lead some to give the new PlayBook tablet a spin.
It’ll certainly be worth keeping an eye on early reviews of the PlayBook — especially if your business already outfits its mobile workers with BlackBerrys.