MediaFile

RIM’s PlayBook looks smooth in first demo

CESEver since its announcement last fall, gadget geeks have been itching to take Research in Motion’s new tablet for a test drive. Tech reporters finally got some hands-on time with the device — the PlayBook — on Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Amid a crush of iPad wannabes, RIM’s tablet proved to be a pleasant surprise.

Some companies used CES to show off less-than-fully-baked tablets, with vendors such as Motorola saying the software was not fully ready. The PlayBook (while also still a work in progress; the real deal will launch in February or March) was noticeably zippy (it sports a speedy dual-core chip). It also has an attractive, intuitive user interface, and played Flash-based videos from the Web at a snap.

It is of course way too early to say flatly that the PlayBook is a real-deal competitor to Apple’s iPad, but the initial take on the device in at least some prominent tech blogs seemed very positive. And with a slew of Android-based tablets hitting the market in the coming months, RIM’s tablet certainly offers a different option. RIM said flat-out that corporate interest in the PlayBook is “massive.” The mobile chief of AT&T said on Wednesday that his customers were looking forward to getting more information about the device.

While some analysts say it might be tough for anybody to catch up to Apple’s iPad, the great tablet war may turn out to be more interesting than expected. Stay tuned…

Tablets could offer Research-in-Motion a second act

Could tablets offer Research-in-Motion a second act? The company, whose Blackberry phones were the hottest mobile devices of the decade until the iPhone and Android phones showed up, badly needs something to revive its growth.

Just last week, ComScore said that the Blackberry’s share of the U.S. smartphone market fell to 35.8% from 39.3% while the iPhone inched up a percentage point to 24.6% and Android grew by six and a half percentage points to 23.5%. Another survey by Nielsen showed that people planning to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones prefer Android and iPhones. Only 11% of those surveyed are most interested in buying a Blackberry.

Analysts are starting to worry that the trend will be repeated in overseas markets. On Wednesday, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. said he expects RIM’s stock price to erode because Android’s market share is growing as prices of Android phones come down. RIM’s stock is down 3% since Monday as investors mulled such concerns.

Forget-me-not: RIM’s half-ready PlayBook vies for attention

www.reuters.comBy Alastair Sharp

Research In Motion’s upcoming PlayBook tablet device made a live guest appearance on home turf today at a Toronto press conference on how these  devices that fall between smartphones and laptops will change life as we know it.

When it comes to real-world uses for tablets, most examples understandably came from Apple’s iPad, the old man on the block at eight months old.

The iPad helps autistic children communicate and helps hospitals manage patients. Corporate software maker SAP has even built an iPad app for business intelligence. The list goes on.

A “completely new” iPad, says Jobs, for the holidays

APPLE/The iPad will have just a smattering of competition for the holiday season, but nonetheless, Steve Jobs says he is basically reinventing Apple’s tablet as consumers prepare to hit the stores over the next five weeks.

Apple on Monday announced the latest software update for the iPad, bringing multitasking, AirPrint and a few other goodies to the touchscreen tablet.  While these features are certainly nice (they came to the iPhone earlier this year), Jobs took it a bit further. And he of course didn’t pass up an opportunity to smack his tablet rivals, which include Samsung and Research in Motion.

“iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season,” Jobs said in a news release. “Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”

Will Blackberry “Torch” catch fire?

blackberry

The makers of the Blackberry, Research In Motion, unveiled a new version of the smartphone with a touchscreen and slideout keyboard, which is aimed squarely at the iPhone. It runs on AT&T’s network and is called “Torch” –but will it catch fire in world of popular consumer gadgets?

The event occurred as attendees and analysts also wondered how Research in Motion would respond to questions about the security of its messaging system.

Check out the live blog that we conducted during the Blackberry event — with a little help from our friends using  Twitter — with lots of opinions and fact about the new product.

LinkedIn no longer MIA on BlackBerry

BlackBerry smartphones and LinkedIn seem like a natural fit, with both heavily used by the corporate set.

Yet the business-oriented social network, which released an app for the Apple iPhone 18 months ago, hasn’t had a specialized app for the armies of BlackBerry-wielding users.

That changed on Monday evening, when LinkedIn made its BlackBerry debut with a free app designed for users of the Research in Motion BlackBerry Curve, Bold and Tour series of smartphones.

from Breakingviews:

Put BlackBerry on hold – but not for long

Blackberry TourBlackBerry-maker Research In Motion is a victim of its own success. Having dominated the market for corporate e-mail devices for years, it is being forced to seek out growth in consumer markets, where, so far, it has had trouble differentiating its products.

Going mainstream has helped vastly expand its consumer base -- which now represents half of all BlackBerry subscribers. Fully 80 percent of its new subscribers now come from outside its traditional corporate base.

But that success is coming at a growing cost to the once lofty average selling price of its phones, the latest quarterly results show. Profits for its second fiscal quarter dipped 3.5 percent, amid weak subscriber growth. Product prices appear under pressure at both ends of its business, both among corporate users and with consumers.

Cliq or Dext? Whatever you call it, Motorola’s big play

Motorola launched its Hail Mary pass in the smartphone market and it goes by the name of Cliq, or Dext, depending on where you live. One would assume plenty of branding research went into the names (Cliq in the U.S. and Dext elsewhere), as this is the company that created such easy-to-remember names as Razr, Rokr and Rizr.

Motorola, once a cellphone leader producing iconic products, has fallen well behind the competition as the smartphone market continues to sizzle and consumers flock to devices like the iPhone (which, incidentally, goes by the name “iPhone” everywhere it sells).

With so many new smartphones coming to the market, analysts say the key to success is differentiation — which is often a software issue rather than a hardware one. Motorola hopes its MOTOBLUR software, based on Google’s Android platform, will help it carve out a niche.

from Commentaries:

Humbled giants eye business phone market

Nokia e71LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Once they were warriors battling one another on the digital battlefield. Nowadays, Microsoft and Nokia are worriers, huddling together for comfort.

The world's top phone and software companies need each other to compete with Apple, Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), whose products increasingly define what users expect from phones and charge premium prices in consequence.

In the market for so-called "smartphones", Deutsche Bank estimates Apple and RIM now take home more than half of all profits, despite producing less than a third of high-end mobile phones. Nokia held a 45 percent share of the smartphone market in June, according to Gartner Inc. (Table 2 in Gartner release)

How many phones is too many?

Most people have one phone or handheld device for work, and maybe another one for play. But how about 14?

That’s how many devices Google’s vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra has. They make it “very hard to get through the airport,” he joked.

We asked him and other executives in the mobile advertising industry what devices they use, after about an hour of a panel discussion on where mobile advertising is going at the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH conference.