Research in Motion's Australian team expect strong local sales of the company's first tablet computer, the PlayBook, which launches Monday.
“There’s a huge pent-up public demand for for the RIM PlayBook,” said Adele Beachley, managing director of Australia and New Zealand for Research in Motion Ltd (RIM).
Beachley strongly rejects a commonly held view that the PlayBook is playing catching-up with Apple and Android-based tablet devices.
“I meet with CIOs and CEOs of Australian enterprises all the time [and] they have been waiting for PlayBook. I’m confident,” she said.
Asked to demonstrate its best features, Beachley claimed the device offers superior touch gestures extending to the bezel. For example, it offered a consistent approach to bringing up the graphical keyboard with a SW diagonal swipe down to the bezel.
Furthermore, she added, the Playbook QNX operating system supports Flash and offers a full multi-tasking operating system.
Beachley contends the PlayBook is the most effective solution for corporate and Government clients because it offers enterprise integration via the BlackBerry Bridge, which connects to BlackBerry devices.
“It will read your pin via the phone and a bridge," she said. "You are securely reading email from your smart phone over an encrypted Bluetooth link. The device creates an encrypted folder to protect material accessed from the BlackBerry.”
Corporate and Government CIOs will not need to roll out a third party solution to secure the device.
“Securing over encrypted Bluetooth is sufficient," she said. "You are not purchasing additional infrastructure. For a large enterprise in particular it is very cost effective. There is no need for another SIM card – just use the data plan from the smartphone.”
Despite her bullish predictions, Beachley would not disclose RIM's targets for take-up of the PlayBook.
“I don’t think we are behind the 8-ball at all," she said. "We are really at the forefront in terms of existing infrastructure and existing hardware using the BlackBerry enterprise server, the two effectively co-exist together.
“We know several MDs of foreign companies down here that went across to the States and bought the PlayBook when it came out there. That was great - they had an opportunity to evaluate it and come back here to deploy it to the organisations so the deployment will be seamless.”
“We are still top for messaging. We are still strong as a security proposition. Those things remain fundamental to the platform. If you look at the customer experience and the rich integration of the application with the native capabilities of the device, it’s absolutely brilliant.”
RIM and support for local developers
Beachley said local developers can expect strong support to port their iPad and Android applications to the PlayBook.
RIM sponsors a forum called Mobile Monday in Sydney and Melbourne – an informal gathering of RIM developers on the first Monday of every month.
"That is the pulse of the developer community," she said. "We are the only manufacturer that has supported the developer community in Australia.”
Zac Jacobs of TigerSpike informed iTnews that his company would be developing for the PlayBook platform but said it was inappropriate to provide further details at this stage.
He rated RIM as "the best in the industry" for supporting both developers and end users.
Another local smart phone developer that declined to be named also confirmed Beachley's support for local developers.
"In general, the smaller a device's market share, the larger the local app support," he said.
Nokia and RIM were noted for making use of regional budgets to promote localisation of applications as well as fostering developer interest, he informed iTnews.
Launch of new security guide for tablet use
RIM also launched a small booklet entitled “Australian Guide for Tablet Users” which offers tips to promote data privacy and security.
“We wanted to be proactive,” Beachley said.
“Security is an important issue around tablets. RIM’s platform is known for its security. Our tablet stays true to its security principles.”
Playbook will be distributed and sold through Harvey Norman stores nationwide as well as through telco carrier deals.