Analyst: Battery Issues Plaguing RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook
By: Chloe Albanesius
12.28.2010 5 Comments
Research in Motion is making "good progress" on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and its QNX operating system but app store monetization and battery life remain an issue, according to a Tuesday note from analyst Shaw Wu.
In talks with industry and supply chain sources, Wu, an analyst with Kaufman Bros., sees progress being made on QNX and the PlayBook, though some questioned the wisdom of pursuing two operating systems - QNX and BlackBerry 6 OS - when many are focusing on iOS and Android.
"Meanwhile, competitive pressures will likely step up as we are also hearing Microsoft courting developers pretty aggressively with its new Windows Phone 7 platform as it attempts to catch up," Wu wrote.
On the PlayBook itself, Wu said RIM is looking into the PlayBook's battery life, which he said lasts "a few hours." The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a six-hour battery life and the iPad boasts 10 hours. "From our understanding, this could require a bit of re-engineering," Wu wrote.
QNX was originally designed for devices like network equipment and cars, where battery life isn't as much a constraint, Wu said. "One possibility we are hearing is the likelihood of a larger battery which could add to the heft and weight of PlayBook."
RIM said the PlayBook measures 5.1 inches by 7.6 inches by 0.4 inches and weighs 0.9 pounds.
"Any testing or observation of battery life to date by anyone outside of RIM would have been performed using pre-beta units that were built without power management implemented," RIM said in a statement. "RIM is on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook's battery life and looks forward to providing customers with a professional grade tablet that offers superior performance with comparable battery life."
Also of concern, according to Wu, is app store monetization. Apple is the only store where developers can count on revenue. Android "suffers from piracy and inconsistency," he wrote, while BlackBerry App World just doesn't have enough apps (15,000) or users. "We are not sure if QNX will fix these issues," Wu said.
Kaufman Bros. is predicting sales of 700,000 PlayBooks in 2011. "We are not convinced that tablets outside of the iPad will see high volume success," Wu wrote.
RIM announced the PlayBook in September. It is a 7-inch tablet with a 1024-by-600 multitouch capacitive display, designed around a dual-core, 1-GHz Cortex A9 microprocessor backed by a full gigabyte of RAM. The tablet will run QNX's mobile operating system, as well as HTML5 and Flash 10.1, with native hardware support to accelerate the apps further. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.