RIM can weather the initial PlayBook storm

Nearly 80 percent of BlackBerry users haven't made a tablet purchase decision yet -- and they really love RIM

Although RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is late to market and is receiving a range of positive notices and negative reviews, RIM has the benefit of a large and loyal user base. Don't underestimate PlayBook interest in your enterprise just yet.

Apple extends iPads beyond iPhone users

A recent ComScore report suggests that more than 72 percent of iPad owners don't own an iPhone. As ComScore claims, "Apple iPad ownership extends beyond just fanboys." This, of course, is a great opportunity for Apple to grow its customer base in the smartphone and perhap even laptop or personal computer arenas.

[ Read InfoWorld's review of the RIM PlayBook. | Get the latest insights and news on open source trends with InfoWorld's Technology: Open Source newsletter. Subscribe today! ]

At the other end of the spectrum, RIM's PlayBook is decidedly focused on existing RIM customers, at least initially. To say these customers are, by and large, loyal to RIM would be a huge understatement.

According to ComScore's data, 17.5 percent of iPad users have a RIM smartphone. These are customers, like me, whom RIM is more likely to lose when they decide to purchase a new smartphone. As I've said before, the only thing that keeps me a BlackBerry customer is BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). I'm not upgrading to a new BlackBerry for fear that RIM will announce BBM is available on an iPhone or Android device.

Excluding turncoats like myself, you can extrapolate from the ComScore data that upward of 80 percent of RIM smartphone customers have yet to make a tablet purchase decision, and they could be swayed by the PlayBook or a future version of the device. Yes, some within this 80 percent have the option of selecting an Android tablet, but there's little that would convince a RIM smartphone user to choose an Android tablet over an iPad. Said differently, if RIM smartphone users are going to select a non-RIM tablet, chances are they'll select an iPad.

RIM selling into the loyal 80 percent

For argument's sake, let's talk about this 80 percent of existing RIM smartphone customers and their plans for a tablet.

A friend of mine won a PlayBook through RIM's launch party contest in Toronto. She was able to bring three friends to the party, and I was one of them. Among the approximately 200 to 250 attendees, I counted two non-RIM smartphones during the three hours we were at the event. Everyone else had a BlackBerry and was feverishly BBMing, Facebooking, or updating their Twitter status throughout the night.

After using several PlayBook devices through the course of the evening and comparing them with my iPad 2, I would say that the PlayBook software needs a little more time. This is not to suggest that the OS or browser is poor in quality. However, both are lacking the fit and finish that a few more weeks of development would have afforded.

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