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Archives: BlackBerry Playbook - Advantages and Disadvantages

Originally published in October 2010
Simon Nguyen

The tablet computer market is one that has not been fully tapped. Other than Apple iPad, legitimate tablet products are rather scarce. With the imminent release of BlackBerry Playbook, developer Research in Motion (RIM) intends to use it to supplant the iPad as the leading tablet computer. Since Playbook and iPad are similar in nature, a comparison between the two products is inevitable. But does BlackBerry Playbook offer anything new or is it essentially an iPad clone? 

Any first product of its kind is usually received strongly by consumers. People appreciate and reward innovation. Similar products (released at a later date) often have a tough time getting noticed by consumers. The BlackBerry Playbook, recently announced by RIM, is likely to face an uphill battle as it attempts to compete with the already released iPad. The Apple tablet has already solidified itself as the market leader of this technology. BlackBerry Playbook will have to clearly distinct itself from the iPad, if the product is to be a serious competitor. RIM has apparently realized this and the announced specs reflect the company’s strong commitment to innovation.

In terms of performance and features, BlackBerry Playbook looks to be an absolute beast. The Playbook is clearly designed to capture all the functionalities of the iPad and at the same time, offer the productivity of a notebook computer. One of many advantages BlackBerry Playbook has over Apple iPad is its multitasking capability. The tablet computer can run multiple programs at the same time, without having to sacrifice speed and performance; this is one feature the iPad is severely lacking. The powerful processing power makes the product ideal for both casual use and work.

Another advantage RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook has is the glorious set of features the product promises to deliver. The Playbook is set to include two HD cameras, the ability to conduct video conferencing, support for flash as well as HTML5 applications, and HDMI interfacing. The tablet computer is also expected to be lighter and more compact than the iPad.

Despite all the positives, BlackBerry Playbook is far from a perfect product. One of the disadvantages of having too many features and processing potential is that it will consume a lot of power. Although RIM has yet to release an estimate of the product’s battery life, all signs point to a shorter battery life than that of the iPad. Apple faced the same dilemma when designing the iPad; the company ultimately decided to choose longer battery life over more powerful features. Another disadvantage is the fact that being a more powerful system means a potentially steeper price tag. With the consumers being uptight about spending, this could be a huge problem for RIM.

Will BlackBerry Playbook be able to overtake iPad as the leading tablet computer? While the Playbook has a lot of features that would appeal to consumers, it also faces many potential obstacles. The biggest obstacle is the fact that it won’t be released until early 2011 or later. In the meantime, Apple iPad continues to gain market shares. Whether or not BlackBerry Playbook can overcome the consumer bias that favors the first product to reach the market remains a big question. Fortunately, RIM has done an excellent job differentiating the Playbook from market leader iPad. The race is definitely not over, though the iPad has a clear advantage at the moment.

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