Canadian Smartphone maker RIM will begin selling its new Playbook tablet for under $500 in an effort to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to a report from Bloomberg, Co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie said the company is planning to be extremely competitive with pricing for their new tablet which is expected to ship early next year.
The tablet market is quickly heating up with a number of new devices hitting store shelves early next year as Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) and Windows Mobile become available. ViewSonic, LG, Archos, Dell, Samsung, Acer, HP, Cisco and Motorola have all announced they will release new 7 – 11 inch tablets in 2011 to compete directly with Apple’s iPad.
Apple currently dominates the tablet space with 95% of the worldwide tablet market for the third quarter of 2010 according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Apple announced they sold over 4 million iPads in the third quarter of 2010 and most analysts expect the company will sell over 15+ million iPads this year.
Although Apple may be the current tablet market leader, it will face increased competition in 2011. Competitors plan to roll out Android and Windows Mobile based tablets next year and these devices are getting a major push from Google and Microsoft. Android based devices already give Apple’s iPhone a run for its money and several analysts feel that Apple will face similar competition in the tablet space.
Even with this increased competition, Apple is expected to still hold a dominant position in the tablet maket next year. Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore says “We believe Apple’s lead in the tablet market will prove difficult to close by the onslaught of competing products coming over the next several quarters. [...] Ultimately, we expect the slew of upcoming competition to fall flat from a user experience standpoint while struggling to materially undercut the iPad on price.”
For RIM to make an impact in the market it will need to leverage its strong enterprise heritage to get the device quickly adopted by large enterprise customers in 2011. RIM’s decision to move from Blackberry OS to their new QNX operating system may prove to be a very smart move by helping the company increase developer interest in the platform and compete with the large Android and iOS app eco-systems.
The fact that RIM’s Balsillie plans aggressive pricing for the Playbook shows the company is serious about this space. RIM’s decision should help it win over enterprise customers currently mulling their tablet purchasing decisions for 2011.