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RIM plans to bring its PlayBook enterprise tablet to market during the first quarter of 2011. Unfortunately for RIM, that's not soon enough to prevent one Wall Street firm from defecting to Apple's hardware.
Bloomberg News obtained a copy of an email that was sent company wide on November 24. In the email, two managing directors in JPMorgan's New York City office wrote, "We believe there are real benefits in our working environment that can be realized using this device - as well as the personal productivity and enjoyment that come as part of the package."
The device will be distributed as part of a pilot program that will run through May 1, 2011. The employees in JPMorgan's global investment banking division will be given the iPad for free, and will be able to keep the iPads as long as they work through the end of the pilot program.
The managing directors noted in their email, "There are a variety of ways to leverage the iPad. Some work off-the-shelf whilst others rely on JPMorgan software/security tools. Depending on its success we will evaluate if we should repeat this one time initiative and/or expand it to others." JPMorgan didn't indicate how many of the iPads would be distributed to its staff.
Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Co., told Bloomberg, "Apple represents a clear and present danger for RIM going forward. For the first time you have a viable alternative to secure mobile communications and by and large we see people moving away from the BlackBerry platform in droves in favor of the iPhone and the iPad."
RIM has bled market share to Apple and Google over the past 12 to 24 months as consumers and professional users alike adopt the iPhone and Android platforms rather than RIM's. Apple seized control of the tablet market when it introduced the iPad earlier this year and has already sold close to 8 million of them. That's an enormous headstart over the competition.
RIM's PlayBook features a seven-inch display and it measures 9.7mm thick. It has a full WebKit browser, with HTML5 and full Adobe Flash 10.1 (with hardware acceleration). It will also work with Adobe AIR, to add more developer integration.
The PlayBook will have two cameras, with the ability to play 1080p video via an HDMI out port. RIM says the PlayBook can also deliver video through USB. RIM was sure to point out that the PlayBook will be a great media and gaming device. Powering the PlayBook is a dual-core 1GHz processor with symmetrical multiprocessing. It has 16GB of RAM.
RIM says the QNX software uses Linux and POSIX, and other standard Web technologies. RIM co-CEO Lazaridis noted that the PlayBook is built on such a secure platform that it is fully ready for the enterprise and comes with all the tools that IT already has for controlling BlackBerries.
Can RIM overcome Apple's lead -- or at least coexist in the market -- and gain an enterprise foothold with its PlayBook?