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Can the New PlayBook Save the BlackBerry Brand?
By: Ted Curtin
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The relatively new tablet market is one of the fastest growing technology sectors. The promise of full-featured mobility transcends personal and entertainment applications, offering tremendous potential for all aspects of business productivity. Tablets, with their multi-function capabilities, have already begun to cut into e-book and PC sales. Apple, with over 20 million units in the market, is unquestionably the front leader in the tablet game, still increasing market penetration with its second generation iPad 2, but now it might finally have some well-positioned competition.

BlackBerry’s parent company RIM has had a tough few years. BlackBerry’s smartphone feature limitations and technical issues have plagued users. Businesses previously averse to anything Apple embraced the feature-rich iPhones and likely warmed up to the simplistic design and unbeatable functionality that Apple represents. BlackBerry’s attempt to recharge their smartphone presence with the enhanced features the new Torch brought to the game still couldn’t shine bright enough to draw consumer focus away from the Apple iPhone. First-weekend sales of the Torch approximated 200,000 while the fourth-generation iPhone cleared 1.7 million units in its first few days, according to CNN/Money.  

Unfortunately, the big problem with feature-rich smartphones is their small size. Convenience loses out to practicality when you need anything more than the most basic information from the Web. With consumers becoming increasingly mobile and demanding more information and content on the go (as advertisers have already noticed), tablets have filled that feature/functionality void incredibly well.

Apple isn’t alone in the tablet market. Google, Samsung, and Motorola seem locked in a battle for the basement of this sector with an endless list of direct comparisons to the market leader. At the same time, RIM, through a powerful new ad campaign, is positioning its slightly smaller, Flash-compatible, feature-rich, “Professional Grade” Playbook Tablet in the one spot that has always been soft for Apple…business.

According to Beta News, corporations are already showing notable increases in Tablet spending as well as internal enterprise app development. Business leaders see tremendous opportunities with tablets enabling sales teams to interact more closely with customers. Marketers can easily share dashboard metrics and concepts with clients as well as promotional materials with consumers. The medical industry is already embracing the ability to share diagnosis and treatment options in a more personal way.

BlackBerry still has a few kinks to work out with its PlayBook tablet, and there will inevitably be some early tech issues to address. How BlackBerry responds to these issues will be key to whether consumers and business are ready to re-embrace the Blackberry brand.   

It’s likely that Apple isn’t exactly scared. Their time in market and current dominance certainly works in their favor, but you can be sure that they are paying close attention to the new PlayBook as a potential game changer in the tablet market.

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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