“The product will be very competitively priced,” co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie said in an interview in Seoul today, without being more specific than saying it will be “under” $500. RIM, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, will start selling the PlayBook in North America in the first quarter and expand into global markets in the second quarter, he said.
The iPad starts at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of storage and Wi-Fi wireless technology. The price rises to $829 for a version with more storage that can connect directly to cellular-phone networks.
RIM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Motorola Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are all moving into the tablet computer market after the iPad triggered demand for devices that can fill the gap between smartphones and laptops. Apple sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after they went on sale in April, eclipsing sales of its iPod music player.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is trying to differentiate itself from Apple and other tablet makers by stressing the ability of its PlayBook tablet to handle Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash technology that underpins much of the video content on the Internet. The iPad doesn’t run Flash video or animation.