Research In Motion is said to be developing a BlackBerry tablet designed to compete with the iPad from Apple iPad and similar devices running Google’s Android operating system. But should it even bother?
Caris and Co. analyst Robert Cihra says it shouldn’t. While RIM’s strong reputation in security and remote management might give it a leg up in the enterprise space, he says, its comparatively small mobile application ecosystem might be a disadvantage.
“We have big expectations for tablets, just not RIM’s,” Cihra said in a research note today. “We’re intrigued by building press speculation of a future BlackBerry tablet, as we have big expectations for the nascent thin-client tablet category, headlined by Apple’s iPad….However, we start pretty skeptical of RIM’s potential in tablets, primarily because beyond media/Web access we think the iPad is really about ‘apps’ and don’t think RIM’s quality-over-quantity ’super apps’ approach will cut it in tablets. Moreover, we don’t see tablets as a platform where RIM’s core messaging strengths and carrier-focused model necessarily translate as well.”
Add to that RIM’s core industrial-design weaknesses and its poor touchscreen efforts to date and the case against a BlackBerry tablet becomes even more compelling. The iPad has shown us that success in the burgeoning tablet market requires good design, a robust OS and a vibrant app platform. And at this point, RIM (RIMM) doesn’t really have any of those things.
The BlackBerry OS might be great for email focused handsets, but will it translate well to a larger slate form factor? That doesn’t seem likely, though one never knows. Ultimately, wouldn’t it be wiser for RIM to take whatever resources it is devoting to tablet development and use them to build a truly killer new BlackBerry, one that really rivals the iPhone and Android devices against which it is increasingly competing?