Apple iPad's Momentum in Fortune 100By Reuters | Print
Research in Motion (RIM) is pinning its hopes on its forthcoming seven-inch PlayBook tablet computer to stem some of its business marketshare losses against Apple's iPhone and iPad.
Apple has said 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies are already deploying or piloting the iPad, including Procter & Gamble, Hyatt, and Novartis.
Samsung, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have launched competing devices and others are expected from companies including Acer and Lenovo.
But for some, RIM -- with its ability to offer security and give companies control over all devices, or individual ones -- remains the only choice.
Philadelpia-based law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, which employs 195 attorneys, cited legal requirements to protect client information to explain its interest in the PlayBook.
"Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to call up one of our clients and say we've lost a device with your content on it and we're unable to remote wipe it and the data wasn't encrypted," the firm's director of information technology, Michael Folkes, said in an interview.
He said some attorneys were using personal iPads, but the firm does not allow their use for client data and would not consider supplying them due to a lack of control.
"Once we start to offer the PlayBook as a business tool, I think we will find that the iPad user after a few months will come back and say can I get a PlayBook too," he said.
Stradley Ronon will receive two trial units early next year and, assuming the firm is happy with the devices, would likely place an larger order no more than six weeks later.
But it's not just lawyers, bankers and pension funds who are eyeing the PlayBook, which RIM says will sell for below $500 -- the retail price of a basic iPad.
Lake Travis school district in Texas may provide more than half of its 7,000 students with PlayBooks to access online curriculum in a cheaper alternative to laptops, assistant superintendent Sean Casey said.
Shares in RIM were up 2.2 percent to $57.14 on the Nasdaq and 1.9 percent higher at C$58.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by early afternoon on Thursday. The shares have jumped 35 percent from a trough in August but are 14 percent lower than at the start of the year.
(Additional reporting by Gabriel Madway in San Francisco)