Research In Motion says its forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will cost the same as Apple’s iPad 2. This is NOT great news, because the PlayBook isn’t as good as the iPad, and is smaller.RIM says the PlayBook will ship on April 19 in the U.S. and Canada, with pre-orders beginning today from Best Buy.
The wifi-only PlayBook will start at $499 for a 16GB version, $599 for a 32GB version, or $699 for a 64GB version. No word yet on 3G or 4G-equipped PlayBook pricing or availability.
(Also, RIM’s list of PlayBook features still does NOT include the word “battery.” The iPad’s 10-hour battery life is a key feature.)
So, who’s going to buy it?
RIM will surely find some tire-kicker-type buyers in the enterprise community, as they test the PlayBook versus the iPad and Android to see which fits their business requirements better.
And perhaps some folks — especially BlackBerry lovers — will want to try the PlayBook because it has a smaller screen than the iPad, so it can be carried in a jacket pocket more easily.
But RIM is not giving the majority of consumers any great reason to buy a PlayBook instead of the iPad. Not only is it smaller, but the software isn’t nearly as good (in our brief testing, at least); the app store isn’t nearly as developed; and there isn’t even a pricing advantage.
In theory, a smaller, less complete device should be cheaper. But it’s not. This is how powerful Apple’s cost advantages are.
It’ll be a few years before we know if RIM will be a solid no. 2 or no. 3 in the tablet market, or a bottom-feeder. But so far, the company isn’t giving us much to be excited about. Perhaps it will have better messaging about why the PlayBook is unique and worth buying closer to its debut.