RIM Makes Another Play for the Tablet Market

Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) recent earnings and upcoming BlackBerry 10 release have gained a lot of attention recently. So much so that the company’s PlayBook may have been forgotten in the commotion. But with Gartner forecasting that worldwide tablet sales will reach 118.9 million units in 2012 — a 98 percent increase from 2011 — RIM certainly has not forgotten about its QNX-based device.

Wi-Fi versions of the PlayBook are getting an update on October 3, and 4G LTE devices are slated to see version 2.1 within a month. The update will support a portrait view for email, contacts, and calendar. Users will also be able to begin SMS texts through the tablet when tethered through BlackBerry Bridge. Also included, Android App Play support for in-app purchases and the camera.

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Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad is the undisputed king of the tablet world. Every major tech player is trying to take a shot at the reigning champ: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) with the Nexus 7, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) with the Surface, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) with the Kindle Fire. Tablet sales are expected to increase substantially in the coming years, and even though the top slots may be spoken for, RIM can definitely remain profitable in the space. BlackBerry Bridge can provide unique value to users who like the way RIM’s platform handles communication between devices.

An IDC report puts a 2012 shipment forecast at 117.1 million in 2012, and predicts 261.4 million tablets shipped in 2016. The report doesn’t specifically mention RIM’s PlayBook — lumped in with “other” — but research director Tom Mainelli says, “we believe there is room in the market for others to find success.” Whether or not that’s the PlayBook remains to be seen.

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