Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BlackBerry maker unveils tablet as it chases rival iPad

NEW YORK — Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smart phone, unveiled a tablet computer to compete with Apple Inc.'s iPad and add a fresh source of revenue as BlackBerry sales growth slows in the U.S.
The device, called the BlackBerry PlayBook, has a 7-inch (18-centimeter) screen, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in an interview in New York. That's smaller than the iPad's 9.7-inch display. The PlayBook is also slimmer and lighter than the iPad.

RIM is racing to get its tablet into stores as Hewlett- Packard Co., Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Inc. build similar devices in a bid to emulate the success of the iPad in filling the gap between smart phones and laptops. Apple sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after the device's April debut, eclipsing sales of its iPod music player.

"RIM needs a tablet device because it's necessary for all the device makers to have a multiplatform strategy to compete in the long-term," said Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles. "With new devices coming out on multiple operating systems, it's as much defensive for RIM to have a tablet as it is offensive."

The tablet will be available in the U.S. in early 2011 and in other countries in the second quarter, said RIM, which didn't give a price for the device.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, rose as much as $1.29, or 2.7 percent, to $49.65 in extended trading after closing at $48.36 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has lost 28 percent this year, compared with a 38 percent gain for Apple.

"The smaller screen allows a little more portability than an iPad, making it easier to carry in your briefcase," said Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities LLC in Boston.

'Busy working people'

The company is counting on the tablet to increase revenue as the BlackBerry loses ground. RIM's share of the smart phone market slid to 18.2 percent in the second quarter from 19 percent a year earlier. Apple's iPhone boosted its share to 14.2 percent from 13 percent, while devices based on Google Inc.'s Android software surged to 17.2 percent from 1.8 percent, according to researcher IDC.

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