BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet to Sell for Less than $500


Starting in the first quarter of 2011, the BlackBerry PlayBook will be sold for less than $500. Bloomberg also quoted Co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM)—Jim Balsillie—saying that the PlayBook tablet will be “very competitively priced.” It is unclear if the presumable $499 price tag for the tablet refers to the Wi-Fi only model that RIM plans to release first or to the carrier subsidized price for a 3G enabled model expected to launch second.

It is excellent to finally hear an actual price (sort of) out of RIM concerning the new tablet. While we will still have to wait and see if the price really does come out to less than $500, this should calm down everyone worried that the PlayBook would be overpriced and weigh in at the $700+ price range. Now we just need the actual date and/or month. January through March is a pretty big window but approaching quickly. Will the new operating system that RIM is putting on the PlayBook be ready in time? A half-baked launch is potentially far more disastrous than a delayed launch.

Besides the uncertainty surrounding the PlayBook’s all new, QNX Software System built BlackBerry Tablet OS, RIM also has to worry about Adobe AIR. The company is pushing the AIR platform as a way to quickly build or port apps to the PlayBook. If AIR falters or ultimately is unpopular among developers, RIM could find itself in quite a dilemma. Adobe’s security track record on Flash—which powers much of AIR—could be another weakness that RIM will have to manage. RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are widely considered some of the most secure devices available and RIM uses this as a main selling point to corporate customers. One big security breach in Flash might be all it takes for the PlayBook to lose credibility from businesses.

I am sure RIM has already thought of all of these problems and is working on solutions. Unlike RIM’s BlackBerry OS, the tablet OS being built by its recently acquired QNX division is UNIX-based. QNX also has considerable experience building control systems for power plants, the military and more. Of course, this won’t stop Apple CEO Steve Jobs from bashing on RIM, his usual target of Adobe, or even the PlayBook’s size. Yes Jobs, your tablet is almost 10 inches diagonal. Happy now that we all know that?

There you have it. Less than $500 for the PlayBook and a first quarter 2011 release reaffirmed. Excited? Let me know if the PlayBook has your interest.

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