PlayBook for Those Who Want to Work and Play

Toronto, April 18 (IANS) Despite the so-so reviews it received before its launch Tuesday, the BlackBerry tablet leaves Apple's iPad miles behind in multitasking, say the experts.

Its powerful QNX operating system - called Neutrino - allows the PlayBook to perform multitasking at amazing speed, according to experts.Thus, PlayBook users need not stop one application to start up another. They can keep all applications running simultaneously. That's why the PlayBook has no 'Home' button unlike the iPad because users don't need to stop any running application to start a new one.

"The (PlayBook) operating system kicks ass,'' Roel Vertegaal, a human-computer interaction professor at Canada's Queen's University, told the Globe and Mail.

"If you want to do more than one thing at once and you want to do it very fast - if you want to do work and play together - the PlayBook shines better than the iPad,'' the paper quoted Mike Abramsky, managing director of software and wireless research at Toronto's RBC Dominion Securities, as saying.

The BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) acquired Ottawa-based QNX software company for $200 million in April 2010
to have exclusive access to its operating system for the PlayBook tablet.

The QNX software powers not only the six-wheeled unmanned Crusher combat vehicle by the US Army, but also music, media and navigation systems in cars from BMW and Porsche.

But in the Apple-dominated tablet market, few analysts are giving thumbs up to the BlackBerry tablet - the first product by RIM to diversify away from its trademark BlackBerry smart phone. It is do or die for the Canadian iconic company, they say.

According to them, RIM has been forced to play catch-up with Apple whose first-generation iPad sold more than 17 million units last year, and the iPad 2 has taken sales many notches up since its launch March 11.

They point out how Apple had no presence in the BlackBerry-dominated smart phone market five years ago. Then Apple entered the smartphone market and within four years overtook RIM in smart phone sales in the North American market.

They say Apple revolutionized mobile computing last year by introducing the iPad which has catapulted it into the world's number one technology company valued at more than $300 billion today.

"This (PlayBook) is a product that just keeps them (RIM) in the game," according to Toronto-based Don Lato, who is a portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel Corp.

The PlayBook is more of a defensive strategy than a revolutionary product by the BlackBerry maker, he told the local Nation Post newspaper.

"It's almost a protection of their BlackBerry franchise more than a whole new growth avenue for them.''

With research firm Gartner forecasting sales of 70 million tablets this year and Apple controlling 70 percent of the market, analysts have projected RIM to sell about 3.9 million PlayBooks.

"It (PlayBook) is almost in a sense a do or die for BlackBerry, staying relevant, staying up to date,'' according to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC).

The seven-inch, Wi-Fi-capable PlayBook will be available in three models, featuring 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes of storage capacity, and in the price range of $499 to $699.


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