Is RIM’s Business-Targeted Tablet Strategy Good Business?
Research in Motion’s decision to gear its forthcoming PlayBook tablet to enterprise might seem a savvy one given the company’s prowess in that market and the BlackBerry’s standing as the de facto smartphone in business. But some analysts wonder if it might be a bit shortsighted, particularly if the tablet market evolves in a manner similar to the smartphone market.
“RIM decided to focus its PlayBook tablet on enterprise, rather than consumer, which may prove strategic in the short term,” Susquehanna analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro observed in a client note today. “However, our concern is that the vast majority of the Tablet addressable market will still be consumer-related and that the same smartphone usage trends will likely carry over to Tablets, which RIM needs to address.”
In other words, by targeting business users with the Playbook, RIM hopes to have the enterprise…playing field all to itself. But the big game and all the action is in the consumer space. Add to this the fact that by the time the PlayBook arrives in 2011, Apple will have updated the iPad’s operating system to the more enterprise-friendly iOS 4.2 and the PlayBook seems less of a sure thing–even in business.
And, by deciding to court only business users, RIM is limiting its addressable market. That might not have mattered so much if it had been early to the tablet game. But it wasn’t. RIM missed an enormous market shift, not just toward tablets, but toward the app ecosystm and usability standards that are driving it. And it may well have lost its home team advantage in the enterprise tablet space when it did.