Research In Motion finally unveiled their long rumored tablet computer yesterday. It turned out to be neither a BlackPad or a SurfBook. Instead, the new tablet shall be known as PlayBook and in RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’ words, is the “first professional tablet“. So what is known about the PlayBook? For starters, it can run Adobe Flash, play games, display content from a paired Blackberry phone and will run on the QNX platform instead of the regular Blackberry OS. That last part is very much in alignment with earlier speculations.
But most importantly, it is rumored that RIM could be taking on Apple by launching a FaceTime alternative. The new PlayBook tablet will feature a front-facing in addition to a rear-facing camera. The presence of this camera is speculated to help in introducing a video chat functionality in the hugely popular Blackberry Messenger. With close to 35 million active users on BBM already, RIM should not have a tough job convincing people to use the new functionality.
The only contentious issue is that in the absence of an independent cellular plan, the PlayBook really cannot be offered at a subsidy by the carriers. How will RIM manage to increase the proliferation of this device without an independent contract? That should be interesting to watch.