Tablet Wars Begin

By Reuters  |  Print this article Print

RIM says its received much corporate interest in its new tablet device, the PlayBook, and announced that a 4G version would come out this summer, following the initial launch of a Wi-Fi-only version in March.

RIM is betting that its reputation for security and reliability will make the PlayBook a favorite in corporate IT departments.

But Apple CEO Steve Jobs has singled out the PlayBook for criticism, saying that seven-inch tablets will be "dead on arrival" when they hit the market.

McDowell said the PlayBook will launch with a library featuring "thousands" of apps available for download. When asked, he said RIM is looking at different screen sizes for the PlayBook, but declined to comment further.

The company has previously said it would sell the PlayBook for "under $500" but has not yet provided a specific price tag. The iPad starts at $499.

Analysts, on average, forecast RIM will sell fewer than 4 million PlayBooks in the 12 months after its launch.

Apple has sold more than 7 million iPads since launching the device in April and analysts predict that the company sold as many as 6 million in the December quarter.

RIM has plenty riding on the PlayBook. Once a darling of Wall Street, the company is having a hard time convincing investors that it is well-positioned to combat Apple and Google in the booming market for smartphones and tablets.

Shares in RIM spiked sharply in heavy volume in the last hour of Nasdaq trade to end the session 4.8 percent higher at $61.92. RIM's Toronto Stock Exchange-listed shares closed 4.4 percent higher at C$61.70. (Editing by Anshuman Daga and Lincoln Feast)