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Blackberry PlayBook

  |   jim's digital lab

Leave it to Research in Motion (RIM), parent company of the Blackberry product line, to take a good idea from a competitor (Apple) and try to one-up it through product positioning. It seems to be the way the technology industry works best…some companies are the trailblazers out there on the “bleeding edge,” while other companies reverse engineer a product, add or subtract features, position a product to a different market segment, alter the price and then roll it out.

This will happen with Blackberry’s new tablet product which is called PlayBook. While Apple’s iPad has sold tens of millions of its wonderful tablet products, the Blackberry version has been in the labs for the last two years. However, the PlayBook has been shown publicly through product demos at industry conferences in very controlled situations. You can see video-based product demos by RIM company execs all over YouTube and even on Blackberry’s own website.

First impressions: the PlayBook is much smaller than the Apple iPad, relatively fast, will offer highly secure mail/data integration with Blackberry Enterprise Server and secure back-end CRMs. The Blackberry App store will have significantly fewer apps when it launches, but you can expect that developers will move quickly to build for the platform if the product begins to show promise on the sales side.

I won’t try to compare the side-by-side features of the PlayBook to the iPad since initial “features” talked about while the product is in beta testing are sometimes dropped before launch to avoid missing release dates. But this much is clear, while the Blackberry product’s user interface will be inferior to that of the Apple product, it’s attention to business-oriented functions will make it the likely choice for larger companies where IT execs are partial to RIM’s excellent reputation for data security. It’s smaller size…sort of halfway between a Blackberry Storm and an iPad display…will make it more convenient for business people on the go.

Since the iPad and BlackBerry’s PlayBook will both eventually work on multiple networks (Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G), businesses of all sizes will have cool choices from reliable industry leaders. These new platforms aren’t great for creating content…but, they are ideal for consuming just about any kind of media you need: text, images, spreadsheets, database CRM pages, streaming media and video conferencing.

The tablet or pad product is not a fad…it and smaller mobile Smartphones will become the dominant methods for accessing the Internet within just a couple of years. You should begin to assess how to integrate these new products into your customer service and business operation environment…from water management applications, on-course GPS and course maintenance schedules, to even the Cart Girls taking orders and processing credit cards on the spot. There will be uses galore for golf course managers.