Is the PlayBook just 'a blip' in the BlackBerry radar?

Has it really been a rough year for the BlackBerry manufacturer? Considering it's only May, it hasn't been too bad. But it's time to re-adjust the focus.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

"Wait until 2012", says Nokia and Research in Motion, the BlackBerry manufacturer, according to Larry Dignan.

There is no doubt that the BlackBerry PlayBook has had a rough start to begin with. But, with 45,000 devices sold on the first day, it is certainly not the worst start an up-and-coming device has had. Compared to the iPad, however, sales will look poor.

So, stop comparing it to the iPad?

I strongly suspect that, while this has been dubbed an 'iPad competitor', it has been pedastaled as something far greater than it actually is.

It's a tablet, just as every other tablet on the market is. However, the iPad is in a league of its own, and probably always will be. Why try and fight to beat something when you know it probably isn't going to happen?

The problem with the PlayBook is that it doesn't have a niche, yet. Though the BlackBerry brand was built on smartphone sales and the premise of secure communications, the PlayBook will not detract away from the main selling points of the smartphone market.


But ordinary consumers, especially the younger lot, will want Research in Motion to focus on the smartphone. Their eyes are blinded by the iPad and will see no other tablet as a viable competitor.

In fact, the vast majority of those who I have spoken to of my own demographic, didn't know what the BlackBerry PlayBook was, but were intrigued for it to own the BlackBerry name -- and wanted to know more.

While the enterprise environment appears to be excited by the PlayBook's arrival, it has not been pitched at the consumer market. Unfortunately for RIM, the PlayBook only works 'one way': the PlayBook will not automatically become a hit because of the BlackBerry name, but arguably the lack of sales compared to the iPad will not deter the ordinary consumers away from existing and future BlackBerry smartphones.

Research in Motion do, however, need to re-focus their efforts back into the crucial elements of the consumer view. There's no doubt that the BlackBerry device is still as popular as they have been over the last year, with practically one in every five people seemingly owning one.  

2011 may not have been the year that Research in Motion wanted to remember. One could argue, it was "the year the PlayBook revolutionised the enterprise", regardless of the projected fewer numbers they expected. On the other hand, it could be seen as the "year the PlayBook flopped into oblivion".

Ultimately, it's down to perception. And analysts, columnists, and journalists degrading and slating the PlayBook on the popular media bandwagon is not what the consumers take away from it all. Consumers don't like change -- so if it isn't broken, don't change.

Or -- do change, but do it carefully. The PlayBook was rolled out tactfully, but not carefully; which is why it probably missed its mark.

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