FRAMINGHAM, 2 MARCH 2011— RIM has been talking up its PlayBook tablet for months, but has been coy about when the latest Apple iPad killer will ship and what it will cost. Speculation heated up Wednesday, on the same day that Apple is expected to make big iPad news, that April 10 will be the day of the PlayBook’s real coming out party.
Boy Genius Report says several sources have told it the PlayBook tablet computer will hit retail shelves on April 10, which is consistent with earlier reports that it would not ship before March.
Staples (SPLS) and Office Depot (ODP) are expected to be among retailers of the initially WiFi-only PlayBook.
Awkwardly, RIM may ask its early adopters to immediately update to new software upon buying the PlayBook, according to BGR: "We’re told the OS goes GM (gold master) on March 31st and that when you boot up the device right out of the box, you’ll be prompted to upgrade to a newer version of the OS."
What has been announced by RIM is that a 4G (WiMAX) edition of PlayBook will be available via Sprint this summer.
PlayBook pricing remains a mystery, though RIM's CEO Jim Balsillie has been quoted saying the tablet will go for less than $500.
RIM introduced PlayBook at the BlackBerry Developer Conference in September and let analysts and CES show goers play with it in January. The tablet sports a 7-inch screen (smaller than the original iPad’s 9.7-inch screen), boasts a 1-GHz dual-core processor and is geared toward business customers who should appreciate its BlackBerry-like wireless security as well as HD videoconferencing capabilities. Its software is based on the QNX Neutrino real-time operating system acquired by RIM last year.
There’s also speculation that RIM will allow Google Android apps to run on the PlayBook.
RIM is looking for the PlayBook to take advantage of what market watchers see as exploding use of tablets in the enterprise. Some 14% of business IT buyers told ChangeWave in a November survey that they would buy tablets this quarter.
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