informa
/
Commentary

PlayBook: An Anchor Dragging RIM Down

Even BlackBerry owners don't want Research In Motion's tablet. When will RIM cut its losses and move on?
When the iPad was launched in 2010 it created a new market, the hottest thing to hit computing since the netbook craze a few years earlier. And, like the netbook craze, just about everyone felt they had to jump in.

As a result, Android-based tablets have been popping up from a multitude of vendors, and Research In Motion decided to roll its own platform and develop a tablet uniquely suited to its core customer base. Now, nearly a year later, it is becoming increasingly obvious RIM needs to admit its mistake and drop the project. Otherwise, the tablet will continue to drag the company down.

I don't think it is unrealistic to say that the PlayBook hasn't won over any non-BlackBerry users. The tablet isn't a standalone device, as it requires a BlackBerry to partner with to get corporate email, contacts, and appointments. RIM had the audacity to say that this wasn't a missing feature but instead is a security feature. If you don't own a BlackBerry, why would you buy a PlayBook?

Even BlackBerry owners who want a tablet aren't interested in the PlayBook: Only 8.5% of BlackBerry owners that want a tablet want the PlayBook. Most want the iPad.

In developing the QNX platform for the tablet, RIM has expended a lot of resources. So far, it has been a very poor investment. Not only is the PlayBook not turning a profit, it has cost the company $485 million. That money would have been better spent on getting BlackBerry 10 to market. That platform, the one that RIM desperately needs to change its fortunes, has been delayed until late 2012.

RIM needs to cut the PlayBook loose. It has caused the company to lose focus. It is contributing to the bad reputation RIM has garnered lately as a company that is out of touch with the market and its customers. Rather, 100% of the company's resources should be invested in ensuring a quick and successful release of BlackBerry 10. The PlayBook isn't going to win RIM a single new enterprise customer, but the current crop of BlackBerry 7.x devices is slowly causing the company to lose customers to the iPhone and various Android phones.