BlackBerry maker promises sub-$500 iPad killer

Canadian BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is planning to take on the iPad with the release of a new tablet PC priced at under $500 in the first quarter of 2010.

RIM top dog Jim Balsillie threw down the challenge during an interview is Soeul according to Bloomberg.

Balsillie declined to give further details on whether the new device would match the iPad's 10-inch screen size. RIM unveiled its seven-inch tablet in September in the form of the business-oriented PlayBook which runs Windows 7. It's not enirely clear from the Bloomberg piece whether Balsillie was taking about the PlayBook, or some other device RIM has up its sleeve.

Despite the PlayBook's supposed enterprise pedigree, RIM seems to be making a very big deal out of the fact that, unlike Apple's iPad, it can play Flash videos and animation. We might be wrong here, but we don't reckon being able to watch Youtube videos of piano-playing cats is an essential requirement in the average boardroom.

Apple, which stole a march on the rest of the industry when it sold three million iPads in 80 days, currently has 95 per cent of the proddable PC market. RIM will have an uphill battle to make any significant dent in that lead, and will need to significantly undercut the iPad's $499 starting price in order to steal sales from the Cupertino company.

The iPad, which was dismissed by most as a faddy toy for a niche market, is increasingly being embraced by enterprise, much to the annoyance of the dozens of OEMs who thought they could undermine the device by cramming a half-baked version of Windows or Android into a netbook with the keyboard chopped off.

Apple supremo Steve Jobs recently dismissed RIM's PlayBook saying it would be "Dead on arrival" because no-one would bother to write applications for it.