Blackberry enters the Tablet race

Blackberry announced their Tablet today:

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/09/27/research-in-motions-7-inch-playbook-tablet-to-target-business-users/

Of course, it connects seamlessly to all the BlackBerry web services, has a webkit browser, multitasking, etc. Not sure what the connectivity is, rumor had it as something that tethered to a Blackberry handset rather than having its own cell radio. Definitely aimed at Enterprise market. No pricing announced yet,

More info on Engadget.com, including some pics from the RIM conference.

The demo video is fairly interesting, they appear to have cribbed a lot of UI concepts from Palm’s WebOS. All in all, it looks like a good offering; if you look at it as sort of an accessory to one’s Blackberry, it could get a lot of traction amongst Enterprise customers, even if the Blackberry app store doesn’t expand dramatically.

As a comparison, here’s the 7 inch Galaxy Tab:

This Official Samsung Galaxy Tab Video Demo Is A Nine Minute, Must-Watch Snooze Fest

They have borrowed liberally from iOS user inferface concepts, and the device does appear to be very responsive. What they don’t talk about is the price. Of course, there are a lot of questions about app availability as well, most Android Market apps will need rewriting to use the unique screen size, and it’s not clear it will have Android Market.

This video of a prototype HP Windows 7 tablet does not bode well for Microsoft at all:

Hp Slate review

Based on how sluggish the UI is, how many buttons the device requires to support Windows (a Ctrl-Alt-Del key? Really?), and the obvious lack of touch integration in the OS ( you have to press a button to make the keyboard appear for text input) this device is too little, too late.

Personally, I don’t think the 7 inch devices will prove to be a big hit. You are talking about a device that’s bigger than a phone, but smaller than a paperback book. While it can support the split-view type interfaces we’re seeing on the iPad and in Sencha, they’re still kind of small for displaying a lot of information. The larger screen of the iPad is just a lot more real estate for displaying information, and given the limitations of the touchscreen input resolution, gives you a fairly precise pointing mechanism at a low price point.

I don’t buy the rumors that Apple is going to introduce a 7 inch iPad, their decisions for the size and form factor for the first-gen device were not arbitrary. At its current size, the iPad’s screen is small enough to be a portable device (think replacement for a clipboard), but large enough to display lots of information and allow for very immersive UI interactivity.

Prcing is going to be an issue for all of these. With the current benchmark being $499 for the entry level iPad, there just isn’t a lot of room for price competition, especially since analysts believe that Apple could drop the price by $100 or more and still turn a profit. Right now, the phone-call-enabled European version of the Galaxy Tab is said to be priced at 700 or 800 Euros, or 679 British pounds. With contract, this is going to be lower, but who wants to commit to a multiyear contract for a device that is more of an accessory than a primary device like a laptop?

Hope that HP unveils their WebOS tablet soon, I assume it will hit much closer to the mark than the Slate, which appears to have been cancelled for a very good reason.

Mobile links for 15 Mar 2010

Blackberry user loyalty very much in question. Two in five Blackberry users are thinking about switching when their contracts come up, and not just to iPhone — Android is also poised to take away users. About 90 percent of Android and iPhone users say they plan to stay put.

Is anyone really surprised about this? Microsoft is going to only allow apps for Windows Phone 7 Series to be offered through their app store, and is going to have an approval process. They claim theirs won’t be as arcane as Apple’s, however. While some developers are crying foul, the success of Apple’s store has underscored the importance of having some sort of gatekeeper for apps, and making sure that apps are of sufficient quality and utility. Hopefully they will also do a better job than Android at promoting their marketplace.