As BlackBerry maker Research in Motion allegedly prepares to announce a tablet next week, analysts have offered some wisdom: Don't bother targeting consumers.
Speaking to eWeek, industry analyst Jack Gold and Gartner Research analyst Carolina Milanesi both said RIM should avoid the consumer tablet market and go after enterprise users instead. They both said RIM's tablet, also reportedly known as the BlackPad, needs to focus on security and productivity, rather than consumption and entertainment.
In theory, the enterprise strategy makes sense. RIM has a lot of clout in the enterprise market, and businesses are now looking to supplement their smartphones with tablets. A device that plays nicely with existing BlackBerry phones -- perhaps with features like Messenger, and tethering through the smartphone -- could prove attractive for businesses. An emphasis on security would be the kicker.
The problem is that RIM is in the middle of an identity crisis. The company still wants to appeal to the enterprise market, but not at the expense of a now-lucrative consumer market. Look at the new BlackBerry Torch, and the marketing thereof: It's all about multimedia, social networking, fast Web browsing and a powerful camera. Enterprise users can join the fun, but this is clearly a step toward making BlackBerry a better consumer platform.
I'm not convinced that a tablet can't appeal at once to consumers and business users. Just because a device is secure doesn't mean it can't consume lots of media. And just because a device has productivity tools doesn't mean it can't have games and fun apps. But when it comes to marketing the product and wooing app developers, RIM will have to choose: Will it continue down the path of consumer appeal, or retreat to its base of enterprise support?
I suspect RIM is still trying to answer that question for itself.