This week RIM introduced it’s latest Blackberry product, a Tablet called the PlayBook. Should we be excited by this and should Apple be worried? What role can it play?As of this moment the PlayBook, to all intents and purposes does not exist. Mike Lazardis of RIM walked around with a mock-Up and showed videos. He talked a lot about the hardware and very little about the software. Oh dear, this does sound rather like RIM falling into its usual trap of concentrating on hardware, which it does very well, and neglecting the user experience. It will be interesting to see if they’ve learnt any lessons from Apple How will the PlayBook compete with the iPad? Apart from the device itself, what matters is the availability of applications. Here. Apple has a huge lead, being the only platform that can seriously offer monitisation opportunities for developers. Today, there are over 225 000 apps available for the iPad and 0 for the PlayBook. So, you may ask, to whom will the PlayBook appeal? There are of course RIM loyalists who will buy the device, yet those who buy blackberries today for the mechanical keyboard won’t have the same driver to buy the PlayBook. Consumers will find the iPad more attractive, unless the PlayBook is substantially cheaper, but this without a carrier subsidy is unlikely given the cost of materials. Also, other manufacturers will be playing at the bottom of the market with google’s android and chrome os which both offer access to a multitude of applications – blackberry will not have an advantage over these platforms. Hence the PlayBook will most likely remain a niche product for companies that are already and happily locked into the blackberry ecosystem. I predict that RIM may even use the PlayBook as a loss leader in the enterprise segment to sell professional services and further their lock-in of enterprise and government clients.