RIM Takes On Apple's iPad With Sub-$500 PlayBook

In effort to give Apple and its iPad a run for its money, Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie today said his company's PlayBook tablet PC will retail for less than $500, support Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML5 and will hit U.S. store shelves sometime in the first quarter.

Balsillie, who talked up his company's first foray into the tablet PC market in a Bloomberg report, also said South Korea will be among the first countries outside the U.S. where the 7-inch PlayBook will first be available.

RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM), which has watched its flagship BlackBerry smartphones and mobile operating system lose share to both Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and a bevy of devices running Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile OS, is banking on the PlayBook to help revive sales while some of its newer smartphones establish themselves in the market.

While Apple continues to dominate the nascent tablet PC market and ride the iPad to record sales and staggering profits ($2.5 billion in its latest quarter), many existing and potential customers lament the fact that Apple steadfastly refuses to support Adobe Flash.

By offering a 1 GHz dual-care Cortex A9 processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 1024 x 600 LCD display along with support for Flash 10.1 and HTML5 for under $500, RIM figures to make some inroads with enterprise customers who have increasingly shown a willingness to embrace new mobile devices in their organizations. The iPad with 32 GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity starts at $499 but escalates in price if it's connected to a wireless carrier or adds additional storage.

Of course, RIM isn't the only tablet vendor to embrace Flash and most, including Samsung, Dell and ViewSonic, have aligned themselves with the Android mobile OS. In any case, all these manufacturers will be chasing Apple for the foreseeable future considering, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, it sold almost 4.2 million iPads in the third quarter -- or roughly 95 percent of all tablet PCs sold.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


iPad, Apple, tablet PC, Research In Motion, PlayBook