RIM Says PlayBook ‘Three Times’ Faster Than IPad

Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion Ltd., opened a new round of verbal sparring with Apple Inc., saying his company’s tablet computer is “three to four times faster” than the iPad.

RIM compared its BlackBerry PlayBook against Apple’s tablet in performing several tasks, including surfing the Web and playing video, and then posted a clip of the side-by-side performance on the Web.

“Go to YouTube and see it, it’s fast,” Balsillie said today at the Web 2.0 conference today in San Francisco. “It’s self-evident when shown.”

The RIM chief’s remarks are the latest salvo in a war of words between RIM and Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs said last month that devices like the PlayBook are “dead on arrival” because they are too small to compete with the iPad and that RIM would struggle to attract application developers to support its BlackBerry devices.

Balsillie fired back the next day, saying in an e-mail statement that people “are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple.”

Today, Balsillie acknowledged the importance of apps in his remarks, though he said in too many cases apps are a substitute for a poor Web browsing experience.

“The Web shouldn’t be an app,” Balsillie said. “I don’t need a YouTube app to go to YouTube.”

Tablet Competition

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is trying to differentiate itself from Apple and other tablet makers by stressing the ability of its PlayBook tablet to handle Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash technology that underpins much of the video content on the Internet. The iPad doesn’t run Flash video or animation. The PlayBook will go on sale in North America in the first quarter and expand into global markets in the second quarter, Balsillie said in an interview earlier this month.

The device has a 7-inch (18-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display, and will sell for “under” $500, he said. The iPad starts at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of storage and Wi-Fi wireless technology. The price rises to $829 for a version with more storage that can connect directly to cellular-phone networks.

RIM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Motorola Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are all moving into the tablet-computer market after the iPad triggered demand for devices that can fill the gap between smartphones and laptops. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after they went on sale in April, and had a 95 percent share of the tablet market in the third quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

RIM fell $1.49, or 2.6 percent, to $56.29 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has dropped 17 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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