After months of speculation, we finally know when Research In Motion will officially enter the tablet computer wars. RIM announced today that Best Buy in the U.S. and Future Shop in Canada are already taking in-store and online orders for the Wi-Fi-only version of the BlackBerry PlayBook. It can be purchased in those retail outlets and more beginning on April 19.
Unlike many tablets that have been released up to this point, RIM will partner with multiple carriers in North America for the wireless-network version of the device they include AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Bell, Rogers and more. Most carriers have yet to announce specific release dates; Sprint revealed on its website this week that it will offer it this summer.” Expect most of the rest to follow suit.
The PlayBook will set you back $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB. Those are the same prices you would pay for the Wi-Fi-only iPad 2.
The PlayBook has received praise in early reviews for its processing speed. RIM is trying to embrace both the business crowd and the everyday consumer, saying it delivers professional-grade, consumer-friendly experiences that redefine the possibilities of mobile computing.”
It will be interesting to see how the PlayBook competes. It enters the market more than a month after the debut of the second-generation iPad and the Motorola Xoom. While the iPad is the dominant market-share leader in the early stages of the tablet wars, many believe this is RIMs chance at redemption after seeing its smartphone share plummet in the last couple of years.
Many other slates are set to join the fight before the year is out.