BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s (RIM) Co-CEO Jim Balsillie appears to have let slip some pricing information on the company’s upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer during an interview with Bloomberg today in Seoul, South Korea.
Balsillie told Bloomberg, “The product will be very competitively priced,”…but the RIM executive also reportedly declined to be more specific. Still, the Bloomberg article clearly states RIM said “it will begin selling a tablet computer in North America in the first quarter for ‘under’ $500.”
It’s unclear how exactly Bloomberg came to this conclusion if Balsillie refused to say anything more than the PlayBook tablet with be competitively priced, but assuming the information is accurate, the sub-$500 PlayBook will presumably be the 16GB version, with the 32GB and 64GB PlayBooks each retailing for more cash.
The “entry-level,” Wi-Fi-only iPad from Apple starts at $499.99, and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab is expected to sell for $599.99, via a handful of wireless carriers and with no service contract, so a sub-$500 PlayBook would indeed be competitively priced.
RIM first unveiled the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet back in September, at its third annual BlackBerry Developer Conference (DevCon), and at the time, the company stated the PlayBook would be available in North America in early 2011. The Bloomberg story echoes this statement, with RIM reportedly saying the tablet should become available in the first quarter of next year in North America, with a global release following sometime thereafter.
This pricing sounds about right to me, though I must say I was sort of expecting the PlayBook to tablet to be a bit more expensive than the Apple iPad, the current tablet of choice, if for no reason other than it’s packing some impressive hardware.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is 9.7 mm in thickness. Its widescreen display is 7 inches. The PlayBook browser supports HTML 5 and full Flash 10.1. Two HD cameras, one on the front and another on the PlayBook’s rear side, enable 1080p HD video capture and video conferencing. The BlackBerry tablet uses non-proprietary HDMI connections and USB ports. And the PlayBook packs a powerful dual-core, 1GHz processor.
It’s “out-of-the-box” compatible with RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). The BlackBerry PlayBook doesn’t require any sort of data plan of its own–it connects to your BlackBerry smartphone via Bluetooth–and no additional software is required, so it shouldn’t create any new headaches for IT managers, RIM says.
While at RIM’s DevCon 2010, I discussed the tablet’s impending release with a number of RIM staffers and PR reps, stressing how important I thought it was for RIM to get the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet out the door and into the hands of consumers as soon as possible. All of these persons agreed, but more than one of them quickly responded with something to the tune of Yes, but it’s more important for the PlayBook to offer a seamless experience than to rush its release.
I had the feeling they were referring to RIM’s bungled BlackBerry Storm launch, in which the first touch-screen BlackBerry was released with buggy software, resulting in a poor user experience and many frustrated BlackBerry users. And honestly, I couldn’t agree more.
The fact still remains, however, that competition in the tablet computer space is ramping up every day, with new models and manufacturers being announced left and right, each attempting to outdo each other with beefier technical specifications or some impressive feature.
The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s tech specs sound great right now–specifically that dual-core, 1 GHz processor and HD cameras. But that might not be the case when the PlayBook is actually ready for release.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.