RIM's Balsillie predicts 'highly successful' PlayBook launch, expands app ecosystem

Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie said preorders for the PlayBook and early indications from partners point to "a highly successful launch" for the PlayBook.

Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie said preorders for the PlayBook and early indications from partners point to "a highly successful launch" for the PlayBook.

Balsillie made the comments about the PlayBook, which launches April 19, as he defended the company's weak outlook for the first quarter. The main takeaway: RIM is in a transition period to the PlayBook and new QNX-based BlackBerries.

The PlayBook "will be the most significant development for RIM since the launch of the first BlackBerry," said Balsillie on a conference call with analysts. However, Balsillie declined to provide unit projections for the PlayBook.

That said, Balsillie expects the PlayBook to drive a halo effect for other RIM products. For RIM, the PlayBook represents "the birth of a new future proof architecture" based on the QNX operating system.

Balsillie also played the enterprise card and noted that CIOs have delayed deployments of tablets to evaluate the PlayBook. He cited companies like Manulife and Royal Bank of Scotland as outfits evaluating the PlayBook. "A good portion of Fortune 500 will receive PlayBooks for review," said Balsillie.

In the meantime, RIM is focusing on making the PlayBook app friendly. Balsillie said that the PlayBook will support Android as well as RIM's Java-based applications. RIM announced the following:

  • RIM will launch to optional app players for Java and Android for the PlayBook.
  • Native C/C++ development support added.
  • Two game engines supported.
  • PlayBook will work with 25,000 BlackBerry apps and 200,000 Android apps.
  • A native SDK for the PlayBook is coming shortly.

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