Preliminary reports by the Financial Post (link) suggests that Research In Motion is scrapping any further production of the PlayBook. Earlier in the week many of us saw the PlayBook drop in price. In some places in the US you can find the 16GB PlayBook for as low as $249. A significant price drop from the original $499 tag.
Why is this happening though? First HP killed its TouchPad and now RIM is killing the PlayBook? At the moment, it seems as though Apple is winning the “tablet war”. But why?
When it comes to having the ability to sell a product, there are two factors that influence a purchase, (in my opinion). The first is its branding. In today’s modern world it seems that more people are brand conscious. Many young people these days seem to care not as much about functionality or price, but how the brand reflects them and their peers. Second, having the “cool” effect. When we see someone on the phone we either see them with an iPhone or a BlackBerry, anything else just wont do. When we think of “tablet”, we think iPad. When we think of a smartphone, many think iPhone or BlackBerry, (and also Android. However Android is a platform, not a phone).
So why is it that the PlayBook actually might be “killed off”. It has a strong following, it has brand recognition and it has somewhat of a “wow” factor.
There really are two reasons I think it may be coming to an end. First, lack of certain features. RIM came into the tablet market late, and ill prepared. When the PlayBook launched it was missing what many considered, essential functions. Take email as the prime example. Unless you bridge your BlackBerry device, you don’t have native email support, (there is no built in app). There is no 3G connectivity either, which means you can’t connect to the outside world unless you’re linked to your device. Finally, there are not enough applications to entice the younger generation to buy.
The second reason is timing. The PlayBook was launched a year (if I recall correctly) after the first generation iPad. This alone solidified its possible death. When the market is drenched with a tablet which many people consider as the benchmark, it is difficult to sway those people into thinking a bit differently. RIM did not have a bad concept and take on the tablet, it just came a little late to the game.
That said, there still is hope. When RIM released the PlayBook it also made a statement that it will build “super phones” based on the QNX platform. If this still holds true, killing the PlayBook would be a step in the wrong direction. The PlayBook is a device for a different market group. Its sleek and compact design permits people to check emails and manage their calendars while hosting meetings at work. I still believe the device is targeted for corporate use, that’s not to say it couldn’t turn into an everyday personal device either.
As I wrap up this post, I’ve been informed by my good friend that the Financial Post has now changed its story that laid claims the PlayBook was on the chopping block. The linked story now reads “Rim denies scrapping the PlayBook”. Regardless, the comments and my personal theories still apply. The PlayBook is an elegant machine with potential, if the right effort is made.