Research In Motion announces date for new tablet
The company hopes its PlayBook will make a splash in a market dominated by Apple's iPad. With video updates.
The PlayBook will be available April 19 in North America. The Wall Street Journal calls the device the "most important launch in years" for RIM, which also makes the BlackBerry line of smartphones. It will cost between $499 and $699, depending on the bells and whistles.
Why is the PlayBook so important? Because after years of trying to court consumers, Research In Motion is losing significant market share in North America. The competition has simply been too fierce, with Apple's iPhone and a host of new phones based on the Android platform from Google (GOOG) stealing customers from the BlackBerry.
Post continues after this video discussing the tablet wars:
Even RIM's core base, the business user, has seen an erosion. Businesses have shown a particular interest in tablets, and Apple (AAPL) has made great strides in getting the Fortune 500 to begin using, or at least testing, the iPad.
All of this has made the PlayBook a huge deal to RIM. It needs to recapture interest from businesses. It needs a tablet that can revive interest in BlackBerries. It must present at least a decent alternative to the iPad, particularly for corporate use.
The Journal casts the PlayBook as key to RIM's makeover from a business-device maker to a "producer of hip, media-savvy gadgets that can compete with Apple." That's asking a lot, particularly from a company that hasn't been anywhere near hip or media-savvy for quite some time.
RIM shares were essentially unchanged Tuesday on news of the PlayBook's launch date. The stock is down 17% from a year ago to $62.05.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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