RIM’s Jim Balsillie takes shots at the iPad, promises “higher performance” on the Playbook

Fri, Dec 17, 2010


During RIM’s earnings conference call yesterday, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie took a few minutes to hype up the upcoming RIM Playbook while also taking a few shots at Apple.

When asked about plans to take on Google and Apple in the tablet space, Balsillie didn’t mince words.

“I think the PlayBook redefines what a tablet should do,” Balsillie said. Elaborating, Balsillie explained that, in his opinion, the market will shift away from proprietary SDKs and what he deemed “unnecessary apps.” So what will folks use tablets, or at the very least, RIM’s tablet for? “Web fidelity and tool familiarity… You don’t need an app for the Web.”


Sounds like Balsillie is trying to deny the fact that apps provide a crucial selling point for tablet consumers. Which, of course, isn’t all that surprising given the relative weakness of apps available for RIM devices.

So what will RIM focus on, if not apps? Performance apparently.

“I think there’s going to be a rapid desire for high performance. And I think we’re way ahead on that,” Balsillie continued. “And I think CIO friendliness, we’re way ahead on that… I think the PlayBook clearly sets the bar WAY higher on performance, and you’re going to see more…”

Funny, one of the more prevalent points of praise directed at the iPad upon its release was how blazing fast the device was. So while Balsillie might be counting on high performance to move units, he might be surprised to learn that no one seems to have a problem whatsoever with performance on the iPad. And with the next-gen iPad set for release in early 2011, system performance is bound to get even better.

One other area where RIM is clearly not ahead of the pack is market and mindshare. Again, here we have a classic example of Apple selling a complete user experience while RIM is touting abstract selling points like “high performance.” The iPad currently owns the global tablet market with a 95% marketshare. On the flipside, your average consumer probably has no idea what a RIM Playbook even is.


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Peter Says:

    RIM is aiming the Playbook at CIOs, not consumers. It’s the “top-down” model, where the IT department decides what people will be using.

    As for the “high performance” argument, one concern is that if he’s using web apps, the performance is based on the speed of the connection–not the CPU. Having a faster CPU just means that it’s twiddling it’s thumbs really fast while it waits for stuff to show up from the Internet.

    If you’ve got a high speed system, you need native applications to show off that speed.

  2. TheOtherGeoff Says:

    as it stands, RIMM is stating that it’s BlackBerry experience will provide carte blanche entree into the CIO’s suite, and drive a Microsoft like corp purchase.

    The problem is the iPad is defining what a web application does, and PlayBook will do that, except for flash. What CIO cares about flash?

    The RIMM value equation is based on BES, not on the Web… Once a corporate client sees that BES is not necessary to control corporate handheld data that is web enabled, they are out the next iteration of corporate procurements. Once you live by the web, you die by the web, and alas, RIMM hasn’t figured that part of their value equation out.

    The threads noting that 1) RIMM is losing new subscriber traction and 2) RIMM is going to stop reporting new subscribers sounds like a company realizing it has hit the slippery slope of ‘open,’ and they weren’t ready to compete.

  3. DaveMTL Says:

    RIMM appears to live on another planet. I agree with both commenters above. I have noticed that my wife’s iPad is rarely somewhere where she can get full speed internet. Since she downloads apps and their data, then uses it basically offline, the user experience ain’t bad once past the initial download. I just don’t see where RIMM is heading. The strategy is quite illusive. Add to that the fact that those same WEB based apps will work just as well on Android, WIN7M and IOS platforms, you quickly see RIMM loosing any advantage. Do they really believe that such high-capacity technology won’t be used by their competitors as well?

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