RIM Shares their Playbook - Is It Enough?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Invasion of the Tablets.  I wrote about how within the industry tablets are one of the hottest trends happening right now and for good reason.  Today Research in Motion shared with the world their Playbook Professional Tablet.  We have all been anticipating RIM's entrance into the tablet market for a while now and since it is official its time to start the analysis.Why a Tablet Focused on the Professional?

This may actually be one of the most interesting and important things about the Playbook.  I am seeing a lot of interest in tablets designed for the enterprise and other verticals. This actually makes a lot of sense particularly as it relates to helping mature the tablet category. Desktops, Notebooks and Smart-Phones all started in the enterprise.  In fact I would argue that it was executives and business men and women bringing their laptops home that contributed to much of the growth for consumers seeing and feeling the value of a portable computer.  The side affect of notebooks in the enterprise was that it helped drive consumer demand for notebooks.

Similarly I anticipate this being critical for tablets to mature as a category.  As enterprise workers bring their tablets home more and more mainstream consumers will get to use and get their own hands on time with the tablet in order to fully grasp the value of this category.  This is why Apple spends so much time and effort to display their products at their retail outlets in order to make sure anyone can get all the hands on time they desire.  They understand how important this is to the buying process and they know how most retail outlets do a terrible job at this very thing. This is why tablets making their way into the home whether through early adopters or through enterprise workers who will be issued them is going to help drive demand for this category.

What the Playbook could do for RIM

If they are successful with it, it will certainly help keep them competitive in the enterprise. Whether or not the Playbook can be successful outside of the enterprise will take time to see.   Especially since it will be facing tough competition from the iPad, hosts of Android tablets, perhaps a Palm/HP tablet and others possibly.  However if RIM can carve out and defend a niche market like the enterprise they could keep a healthy business.

It is also possible that the Playbook can actually expand RIM's presence in the enterprise and potentially eat into enterprise notebook sales.   The tablet category could very well help RIM compete where they could not compete before and that is with notebook computers.   We already know many enterprises are looking into this category and some are already deploying iPads.  Tablets in the enterprise will be a very interesting thing to watch and as I said before  the side affect is that it could create even more demand for tablets with consumers.

Like the iPad the Playbook will have to showcase and evolve to allow for the type of productivity a notebook provides if it ever wants to truly threaten the notebook.  Right now tablets fill a set of use cases that are more geared for consuming then producing.  That however can change and it may very well change quickly.

Things to Watch:

- How will the Playbook be priced

- Will it generate any interest with mainstream consumers

- Will it help grow the RIM app ecosystem

- What will the tablet impact be for notebooks in the enterprise