Blackberry to launch Playbook in India this month

Blackberry to launch Playbook in India this month

New Delhi: After mobile phones, the competition is hotting up for “tablets" in India with BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) all set to launch its PlayBook in the country later this month to face the likes of Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

The Canadian firm will launch PlayBook in Indian markets and some other countries this month, sources said. According to the company’s website, the PlayBook is scheduled to be launched in 16 countries, including the UK, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia, UAE and India.

“The price is going to be competitive with the other products and in line with the global pricing as well," they said.

The price in India could range between 22,000 and 32,000, depending upon its storage capacity, from 16 GB to 64 GB.

Globally, PlayBook is available at $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, respectively.

Since the launch of Apple’s iPad, the tablet market is witnessing huge competition, with new contenders launching their devices. A tablet PC, though smaller in size, has PC-like functionalities.

Apple’s rival in the computing space, Dell had launched the ‘Streak´ last year in India, while homegrown telecom handset makers like Spice and Olive have also launched similar devices at much lower price points.

The BlackBerry tablet has received a mixed response from the markets where it has been launched. According to reports, unlike rival iPad, which sold like hot cakes on its launch in April last year, the PlayBook just sold 50,000 copies in the first week of its launch on April 19 in the US and Canada.

BlackBerry has over one million users in India and RIM would target them.

The PlayBook is a seven-inch tablet that runs on a new operating system built by QNX Software Systems -- a RIM unit that makes software used to run everything from cars to nuclear reactors.

On a PlayBook, users can go online only using a Wi-Fi network or by synchronising the device to their BlackBerry smartphones.

According to analysts, sales in the tablet PC segment in India are expected to touch one million units over the next 12 months.

With 3G (high-speed internet services) being rolled out aggressively, the opportunity has only expanded, they said.

RIM plans to add 200 BlackBerry ’Experience Zones’ in India

RIM also plans to open 200 more BlackBerry ‘Experience Zones´ across India by this year-end, a company official said.

“We have support stores from BlackBerry, called ‘Experience Zone´. So far, we have more than 500 such stores across the country. By the end of this year, we would probably like to add another 200," BlackBerry India senior director (Channel & Sales) Sanjay Kaul told reporters after inaugurating a store here.

Elaborating on the concept of the BlackBerry ‘Experience Zone´, Kaul said, “We support the key retailers, who are selling BlackBerry in India, with such outlets, so that customers easily understand the use of BlackBerry products and get to know the propositions of BlackBerry smartphones, vis-a-vis other smartphones."

About the investment pattern, Kaul said, “The investment is not done directly through RIM, but through our national distributor."

When asked, he declined to comment on security concerns about BlackBerry’s operations in India.

The Home Ministry had said earlier this year that it would insist that the Canadian company provide a solution that would enable security agencies to intercept corporate email services.