Here’s RIM’s Only Chance For The BlackBerry PlayBook

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

[credit provider=”Dan Frommer, Business Insider”]

The reviews are out, and as we told you in February, RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is a mess. The software is half-baked, the app story is still a riddle, and few people have fewer reasons to buy them.The iPad 2’s cover is cooler than the PlayBook, it seems.

Having seen RIM fumble with software for years — the most important part of a tablet — we don’t have much hope that the PlayBook will radically improve.

Not enough in a short-enough period of time to catch up with Apple and Google, at least.

But there is one hope for RIM: That big companies, who have already invested millions in RIM devices and infrastructure in the past — and who have been sufficiently wined and dined by their RIM sales rep — decide to order fleets of tens of thousands of them for their companies, as RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie alluded to on the company’s last earnings call.

As we noted, “Balsillie says that many corporate clients have approached him about wanting ‘several tens of thousands’ of PlayBooks. These corporations are looking at tablets and like the PlayBook architecture, he says.”

Now, there’s a big difference between a CIO “approaching” Balsillie about a potential purchase, and actually going through with it. But if the BlackBerry PlayBook can become the tablet equivalent of the ubiquitous Dell or HP desktop terminal, maybe that’s enough to keep the project alive.

Maybe CIOs think the smaller, 7-inch screen size will be useful for taking notes on conference calls or punching in CRM stats on the road. We’ll see.

But even that will be tough.

First, because the PlayBook’s pricing doesn’t give it an advantage over Apple’s iPad.

Second, its software situation is still a mess, whereas Apple’s is simple, and companies have already been using it for their iPhone apps.

And third, because RIM is behind the competition, whereas even in January, 80% of the Fortune 100 had been testing or had deployed the iPad.

So, we’ll see. Either the PlayBook is going to totally flop, or RIM’s corporate devotees will rescue it.

But there isn’t much hope for this being a consumer hit until there is a better pricing, media, and software story. And even then, we still haven’t heard a single good reason to buy the PlayBook instead of the iPad.

Don’t miss: Apple Will Dominate The Tablet Market For Years