The BIG question with the recently announced BlackBerry PlayBook is what price it will carry once it launches. RIM has left that question wide open and it has many reasons for doing so. I think that the only reason they announced the PlayBook before they are close to a launch was to let enterprise and even consumer/prosumer users know that a solid and secure BlackBerry experience is coming to the tablet space before (or even while) they consider the iPad. I have heard a few people complain that the PlayBook is just a copycat of the iPad but isn’t the iPad just a big iPhone/iTouch? What RIM essentially said with this announcement is that they will have a “Professional” tablet available soon so there is no need to try to make the iToy a professional device.
Here are a couple of reasons why I think RIM has not announced pricing for the BlackBerry PlayBook:
- If RIM would have announced pricing for the PlayBook they would have been immediately subjected to comparisons with the iPad and the Galaxy Tab as a value proposition. For example, “you can get a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad for $499 so RIM’s pricing for a 16GB Playbook at $X is too high…”
- The second RIM announces pricing they are showing their hand to the competition. RIM already shared way more than they ideally should have which has given the competition a heads up on what they will be competing with in “early 2011.” Adding the price to the mix would only have exacerbated this.
- Pricing is one of the few things RIM is left with in terms of flexibility. Now when the device is announced they can see what the market value is and adjust accordingly. (or hopefully undercut the competition by 50%!)
- The tablet market is relatively new with very few real devices out there in the major leagues. Currently there is only the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab has yet to have pricing announced since it will be different on every carrier.
- RIM is in a unique situation with the PlayBook since it will be one of their first devices where pricing will/may not be based on wireless carrier subsidies. Since the PlayBook is a companion device with no dedicated wireless connection it may not be subsidized by carriers giving RIM more control over price.
- RIM has not announced where the PlayBook will retail. There is still a big question on if it will be limited to carrier retail channels or also open the door for traditional retailers like BestBuy and others. Based on that pricing may vary widely.
With that said I think RIM has a very compelling device with the PlayBook. The QNX operating system on its own is a huge upgrade in terms of limited OS tablets like the iPad which do not support the level of extensibility available in the PlayBook OS.
So what do you think the price will be for the BlackBerry PlayBook? My current bet is $399 but I don’t have much backing me up on that other than a rumor I heard from one of my sources.