RIM’s Tablet not a Competitor?

Speculation is the cornerstone of the swamp known as the smartphone reporting world, but recent comments by Caris & Co analyst Robert Chira are particularly… swampy? The quote of note is Chira’s speculation that, “We’re intrigued by building press speculation of a future BlackBerry tablet, as we have big expectations for the nascent thin-client tablet category, headlined by Apple’s iPad. We have big expectations for tablets, just not RIM’s.” Woah, kinda harsh there Chira.

Chira does go on to explain exactly why be believes Research In Motion Ltd.’s (RIM) tablet is not going to be a big player in the tablet market: “We start pretty skeptical of RIM’s potential in tablets, primarily because beyond web and media access we think the iPad is really about apps. We don’t think RIM’s quality-over-quantity ‘super apps’ approach will cut it in tablets. Moreover, we don’t see tablets as a platform where RIM’s core messaging strengths and carrier-focused model necessarily translate as well.” Okay Chira, fair enough. We can all agree that RIM needs a heck of a lot more apps in their App World Store, but isn’t that why RIM is launching App World 2.0?

App World 2.0 promises new billing options (including carrier billing), a much improved interface and consistent accounts that make it a breeze to install already bought apps onto new BlackBerrys or other carriers. While this alone may not be enough to propel RIM’s store to Apple’s App Store levels available applications, it certainly will not hurt.

The other component that Chira seems to be ignoring is that RIM’s tablet is going to be able to connect to your BlackBerry via a Bluetooth tethered configuration, opening the possibility for apps that use the abilities of both. Furthermore, a lot of people seem to be ignoring the fact that tablets are already in fairly wide use in certain market segments that RIM is uniquely poised to capture. Why, just a few weeks ago I saw the manager of a 7-11 convenience store using a tablet to run his entire inventory calculations and then order everything from his suppliers with a few simple taps on the screen via Wi-Fi. It wasn’t an iPad either.

While RIM might have a fierce fight on its hands when it does enter the tablet market, writing RIM off before the product has come out is very premature.

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