10 things RIM can do to survive Apple’s assault on the Playbook

News that Apple is “likely to begin production of 7.85-inch iPads in 3Q12” hit the web today, and it’s seriously bad news for RIM and their recently re-vitalized Playbook tablets. 7″ iPads from Apple? Hey RIM, in case you didn’t see the subtle signs before, today marks an official countdown for you guys. Apple has noticed your little sub-tablet niche and is coming after it. Hard.

So what can RIM do to survive a direct assault from Apple?

1. Like I mentioned before, I think RIM can still make up for lost time by aggressively flooding the market with cheap tablets in the $150-$200 range. Send demo units to teachers, city employees and legal teams. Emphasize the very low cost to get in the door and target companies that can benefit from tablet-based connectivity at a 2-for-1 budget over the iPad.

2. Focus on the growing “I just don’t use my iPad” crowd. There’s a surprising number of iPad owners who just don’t use their iPad because it isn’t what they wanted (or thought it would be). Show the world that the Playbook is what they needed all along. SHOW you can really use office (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) on a Playbook. SHOW how great the web is with a flash enabled browser on a Playbook. SHOW the new OS on the Playbook has everything (Email, Contact List, Embedded Twitter integration, etc). SHOW that the Playbook is available now in a “2.0” form. And SHOW the Playbook is cheaper than most video game systems!

3. Offer a generous unconditional lifetime replacement guarantee. Amazon does this with their Kindle lineup, and as a direct result, people will take their kindle with them to places they would never take their iPad. Think of the sales pitch… “You can spend $200 on a superior product with a lifetime warranty that you can use every day with confidence, or you can spend $400 on a piece of glass with no warranty.”

4. Make the “cloud” part of OS 2.1. Make a system-embedded option where documents, music, etc are all backed up to DROPBOX, or SKYDRIVE or whatever online service a user wants.

5. Get iTunes sync for music and videos. There’s already apps on AppWorld called ItunesSync and ItunesVideoSync that do this. Buy those apps out, integrate the apps into the system, and promote that feature on the Playbook. Make it so that everything in iTunes on a PC (or Mac) can be pulled over to the Playbook with two clicks. Instant ROI / happy customers.

6. Quit the feud with Netflix. Make nice and get them on board. Or go say hello to Amazon! Or Redbox! Get Hollywood on the Playbook’s HD screen and get access to a resource that has a established cross-platform movie and music library. (On a related note, get rid of 7digital. They’re NOT consumer friendly and their web-storefront is outright hostile.)

7. Allow in-app purchases directly to a developer’s website. Advertise online and in tech mags that RIM Playbooks not only allows for any and all in-app purchases, but does NOT take a cut of in-app sales like Apple does. Use this passive monetary incentive to get developers to come around of their own free will.

8. Constantly check the top 20 in the APP store in iTunes and call the developers of those apps. Always make them an offer to come over with a free Playbook to test their apps on. Also go after the Apple developers and the apps that were kicked off Apple’s app store and offer them sanctuary on the Playbook/RIM side.

9. Push multimedia. Buy (or write) a iMovie knockoff and emphasize how easy it is to make movies on the Playbook. Get with HP and buy (or copy) their touchscreen photo editor app. Make the Playbook the tablet/camera/live editing hardware the iPad looks ridiculous trying to be.

10. Allow exploits. Hear me out on this one… if you allow for a Playbook equivalent of Cydia, and let tech-savvy users root the Playbook, you WILL see sales of the Playbook skyrocket. As a by-product of this, support for the Playbook will be more grassroots-based, and the Playbook’s reputation as a “real” tablet will grow exponentially almost overnight.

People love the underdog in a fight. The “we try harder” motto worked for Hertz for a long time, and going against a juggernaut like Apple, in any situation, is definitely a big-time underdog situation.

I think RIM can not only survive, but prosper if they play their cards right. I guess we will all see around 4Q 2012 if that’s true or not.

A few comments on the RIM Playbook 2.0 OS update

Just a few comments on the new RIM Playbook 2.0 ( OS that was released today.

  • The reboot after the update takes anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Don’t panic! Just let the startup screen with the blooming lights (or whatever they’re called) do their thing. The new desktop will eventually appear.
  • The OS seems faster and more responsive.
  • The update is big. Here’s two screenshots of the update process…
Playbook update 1

Playbook update 1

PlayBook 2

PlayBook 2


  • …and a screenshot of the new desktop!


Playbook 3

Playbook 3


  • You can create folders by dragging and dropping icons on top of each other.
  • The Messages app (Email) is pretty good. It looks and acts like Mail on the iPad with the column/pane layout, but you also get formatting, font and alignment choices, and sorting by tag and priority. It feels like a mini Outlook.
  • When you get a new message, the red light on the top of the Playbook blinks. Nice! (You can turn this off by going to the OPTIONS gear on the upper right of the main screen, and then choosing what you like under SOUNDS & NOTIFICATIONS)
  • You can’t email a photo from inside the Pictures app. You CAN email photos from within the Messages (email) app. Just go to the paperclip attachment icon when composing a new message and choose the PICTURES tab. (You can also email anything in the Video, Music and Documents directory.)
  • App world has a LOT more apps to choose from. Brace yourself.

Overall, I’m highly impressed with this update. If this was the embedded system that launched with the Playbook, Apple might have had a very serious problem on their hands.

I think RIM can still make up for lost time by aggressively flooding the market with cheap tablets in the $150-$200 range. Emphasize the very low cost to get in the door. Target service industries, city employees, the court systems and school districts with tight budgets . Anywhere that a large, typically under-appreciated workforce would benefit from tablet-based connectivity at a 2-for-1 budget over the iPad. Embed Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Acrobat in every system, and emphasize the browser is just like any PC’s desktop browser (IE: Flash!).

Advertising-wise, I would hype the smaller size and easier portability of the playbook, and tag team with Hollywood on the Playbook’s HD screen. (Sorry, Apple fans. Watching a HD movie on a Playbook VS. an iPad 2 screen isn’t even close.) Maybe embed some free movies on there, or team up with Netflix or Redbox. On the flip side of that, I would buy (or write) a iMovie knockoff and emphasize how easy it is to make movies on the Playbook. Make a contest where the best movie shot and edited on a Playbook gets a big prize.

Whatever RIM is planning, if I was in charge, I would move quick on this new system’s features. All Apple has to do is release an iPad that’s similar in size and screen quality as the Playbook (even if it is $50-$75 over the Playbook price point) and that will be it for RIM.