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May 19, 2011
The BlackBerry PlayBook looks to be winning the hearts and minds of tablet users, faring better in its first month than the Motorola Xoom. According to RBC analyst Mike Abramsky, RIM has already sold 250,000 PlayBooks — a small number compared to the iPad, but encouraging nonetheless. Read on for a little perspective on the tablet arena and how the Playbook plays into the channel …
You might remember in my recent 30-second review I noted the Playbook was more fun to use than the Motorola Xoom and praised the use of the touch bezel. There were quirks, yes, but updates were coming. According to a recent story in Information Week, Abramsky noted RIM not only has moved 250,000 PlayBooks since April 19, 2011, but the company is well on track to sell 500,000 of them by the end of the quarter. Motorola has shipped 250,000 Xooms, according to its stats, but the company declined to comment on how many have been sold. As of April 7, BusinessInsider.com estimated 100,000 Xooms had been sold. Abramsky’s report noted sales were good across 180 surveyed Best Buy stores with returns “nominal.”
Often overlooked is the BlackBerry PlayBook’s ability to run Android applications. The Android Player feature (coming soon) potentially could sway users looking for specific apps and features but were unsure where to compromise. Essentially, 7-inch tablet shoppers can have their cake and eat it, too. Still, it’s too soon to place bets in the tablet arena. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10-inch version was distributed to 5,000 Google I/O attendees with great reception and excitement. In June, 2011, the rest of the world can get their hands on one. HTC, LG, Asus and Dell either have, or will be offering, new tablets of the Android variety as well.
But, if the PlayBook remains a standout player amid the Android noise, it could change the way the market feels about the tablet wars. HP’s webOS TouchPad, when it’s released, will be appealing to some for the simple reason it’s not Android. But will HP follow suit with its own Android player? Could Android reach a saturation point or lose its appeal? These are all questions worth thinking about, and yes, they apply to the channel.
If the Playbook (and even the HP TouchPad) finds more favor than Android tablets, especially in the workplace, we could see a shift in the way resellers approach their mobile strategy. Fears about Android security may shift company purchases to more “closed” mobile OSes such as iOS, PlayBook and webOS, which could not only mitigate security concerns but also reshape the hardware and service packages VARs sell.
The tablet market and the services around them are quickly evolving. We’ll continue to keep tabs as mobile straggles ebb and flow through the channel.
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