The tablet market is looking like a two-horse race at this juncture. It's Apple's iPad with a huge, market-defining lead, and Amazon's Kindle Fire catching up. The only distinct third option, outside the ill-defined Android context, is Research in Motion with its BlackBerry PlayBook. And that tablet hasn't even come close to meeting expectations. This is from the LA Times:
[PlayBook] numbers are small compared with the sales of competing tablets. RIM said in its statement that it sold about 150,000 PlayBook tablets to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26 "and sell-through to end customers, based on RIM's internal data, was higher than this amount."
How does that compare with iPad and Kindle sales?
Not well. Apple may sell 60 million iPads by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, Amazon may have already sold 2 million Kindle Fires, and may soon sell 2 million more.
Today's tweet comes from @Slate. In an effort to make up for last week's terrifying BlackBerry outage, Research in Motion is giving away $100 in apps to users. You can get Sim 3, Bejeweled, Bubble Bash 2...
Um, look, I'm a BlackBerry loyalist — meaning I haven't joined the 4 million people who lined up to buy an iPhone 4S over the weekend — and I literally have no interest in any of those apps. I mean, I have a BlackBerry. The whole point if using this device is to not play games on it. Except for BrickBreaker. But I never even play BrickBreaker. I'm too busy using my BlackBerry to get stuff done!
In the entire time I've been a BlackBerry user, I've browsed the games section of the app store maybe...once? How about this: a $100 credit toward a BlackBerry PlayBook. And don't restrict it. Let me combine it with other offers. Somehow I think it's more imporant for RIM to get its underperforming tablet in the hands of people who have its smartphones than to get apps on those same smartphones that users won't really use.
Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: (L-R) TechCrunch Founder and Co-Editor Michael Arrington,500 Startups Venture Capitalist & Founding General Partner David Mclure, Tasty Labs Co-Founder and CEO Aydin Senkut, Freestyle Capital Founding Partner Josh Felser, SoftTech VC Managing Partner Jeff Clavier, and SV Angel angel investor Ron Conway speak onstage at Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 held at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse on September 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
If you aren't reading Fred Wilson, you should. He's a venture capitalist who runs Union Square Ventures in New York and regularly writes about being a VC at his aptly named blog, AVC. Many people who are pondering the woeful state of the U.S. economy are looking to tech as something that may lead us out of the woods. Problem is, tech costs money. And tech is extremely competitive. And there's been some discussion of late that VCs are having trouble raising money to fund new companies.
Wilson breaks it down. Here's what I think is his most interesting point:
5) The internet investing market is transitioning. Social was the driving force for the past three or four years. In the wake of Facebook and Twitter, how could it not be? Mobile has also been a hot theme. Both sectors have consolidated a few winners and a number of additional interesting emerging companies. But how many social platforms of scale will there be? Five, ten, twenty? And mobile is hard because distribution continues to be limited to the app store model where you get on the leaderboard and win or you don't and you don't. Investors are moving into new areas like cloud, peer to peer marketplaces, and trying to take what worked in consumer into the enterprise. There is no lack of interest in internet investing, but investors are having to learn new markets and new sectors. And that kind of transition takes the heat out of an overheated market.
The mighty Arianna summarized what, a little closer to our neck of the woods, The Wrap packaged as "Hollywood Exhales: BlackBerry Service Is Back." What happened is that, after seeing its business start to slip through its fingers over the past year, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion encountered a nightmare scenario: its supposedly secure, supposedly bulletproof network has spent three days failing.
It began in Europe and the Middle East but was looking like it wouldn't make it to U.S. or Canada. Today, however, we got hit on this side of the pond. The outage was brief, but the outrage was audible. For one thing, we learned that Arianna travels with three BlackBerrys. She didn't say which one she was tweeting from. Although for all we know, she could have a six iPhones and two iPads tucked in her Vuitton carryon. Maybe even a Vertu.