Black­Berry maker to take on Ap­ple’s iPad

Par­ent com­pany RIM plans to re­lease Play­Book tablet com­puter next year.

Los Angeles Times - - Daily Market Roundup - David Sarno david.sarno@latimes.com

In one of the first frontal as­saults on Ap­ple Inc.’s in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar iPad tablet com­puter, smart-phone ti­tan Re­search in Mo­tion Ltd. on Mon­day an­nounced a pad of its own.

The Play­Book, with a 7inch screen, will be re­leased in early 2011— and it will go places the cur­rent iPad doesn’t.

The Play­Book’s two builtin cam­eras will al­low for video chat (the iPad is cam­era­less), and the de­vice will per­mit Adobe Flash pro­grams, which make up a huge per­cent­age of on­line video and games. Be­cause Ap­ple has taken a dim view of Flash’s per­for­mance and se­cu­rity, Flash pro­grams are barred from the iPad and iPhone.

RIM, which did not re­lease a price for the Play­Book, said it would be the “fastest” tablet yet — though at 1GHz, its in­ter­nal com­puter pro­ces­sor is about the same speed as the $499 iPad.

The Play­Book will run RIM’s pro­pri­etary op­er­at­ing sys­tem — called Black­Berry Tablet OS — and the ini­tial ver­sion will not sup­port a 3G or 4G cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion. Like the base­line iPad, it will con­nect to the In­ter­net only through Wi-Fi.

Though RIM, of Water­loo, Canada, still has less name recog­ni­tion than the star-stud­ded Ap­ple, it has long led the Cu­per­tino, Calif., com­pany in the smart­phone race, in large part be­cause of the cor­po­rate world’s pref­er­ence for the Black­Berry line.

As of July, nearly 40% of the U.S.’ 53 mil­lion smart phones were Black­Ber­rys, and only about 24% were Ap­ple iPhones, ac­cord­ing to Web rat­ings ser­vice ComS­core. (Google Inc.’s An­droid plat­form rose to a 17% mar­ket share.)

Still, Ap­ple has a com­mand­ing lead in the tablet race, hav­ing sold 3 mil­lion iPads in the de­vice’s first 80 days in stores.

On the heels of RIM’s an­nounce­ment, Ama­zon.com Inc. said it would re­lease a Kin­dle read­ing app for the de­vice, which al­lows for down­load­ing and read­ing of the 700,000 books in Ama­zon’s e-book store.

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