RIM announced that their soon-to-be-launched iPad competitor – the BlackBerry PlayBook – will be available from April 19th in the United States and Canada, matching Apple’s iPad with a starting price of $499.
The PlayBook, which initially will be available only with WiFi, will be sold in a number of retail outlets, including 20,000 locations of Best Buy in the U.S. and Canada, RadioShack, and Costco.
Pre-orders for the device are now being taken by RIM for the three launch models – the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of storage which are priced respectively at $499, $599 and $699.
“The BlackBerry PlayBook delivers professional-grade, consumer-friendly experiences that redefine the possibilities of mobile computing.” RIM
According to RIM, the PlayBook is less than half an inch thick and weighs less than a pound. It features a “highly-responsive” 7-inch high-resolution display and, unlike the iPad, supports Adobe Flash. RIM also claim that it comes with advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.
However, RIM’s road to launch has not been entirely smooth, with criticism from some of its would-be app developers accusing RIM of making the process of developing apps extremely “frustrating”.
And concern has also been expressed that the PlayBook will not come with either integrated BlackBerry Messenger services (although a handset can be tethered to use it) or cellular connectivity at launch.
The resignation of RIM’s chief marketing officer, Keith Pardy, and reports of RIM devices running Android apps have also increased the levels of unhelpful speculation surrounding the PlayBook.