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BlackBerry maker RIM takes on iPad with PlayBook tablet

September 27, 2010 |  3:32 pm

In one of the first frontal assaults on Apple's increasingly popular iPad tablet computer, smartphone titan Research in Motion on Monday announced a pad of its own.

The new 7-inch device, called the PlayBook, will be released in early 2011 -- and it will go places the current iPad doesn't. 

The PlayBook's two built-in cameras will allow for video chat (the iPad is camera-less), and the device will permit Adobe Flash programs, which make up a huge percentage of online video and games. Because Apple has taken a dim view of Flash's performance and security, Flash programs have been banned from the iPad and iPhone from the beginning.

RIM, which did not release a price for the new device, said the PlayBook would be the "fastest" tablet yet -- though at 1GHz, its internal computer is about the same speed as the $499 iPad.  The PlayBook will run RIM's proprietary operating system -- called BlackBerry Tablet OS -- but the initial version will be Wi-Fi only and will not support a cellular connection.

Though RIM still has less name recognition than the star-studded Apple, it has long led the Cupertino company in the smartphone race, in large part because of the corporate world's preference for the Blackberry line.  As of July, nearly 40% of the U.S.'s 53 million smartphones were BlackBerries, while only about 24% were Apple iPhones, according to Web ratings service ComScore. (Google's Android platform rose to a 17% market share).

Apple sold 3 million iPad's in the devices first 80 days in stores.

On the heels of RIM's announcement, Amazon.com said it would release a Kindle reading app for the device, which allows for downloading and reading of the 700,000 books in Amazon's e-book store.

 -- David Sarno

 Image from BlackBerry website.

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