PlayBook stands out for 20:20 in tablet confusion

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20:20 Mobile said it is still evaluating the new tablet device market, but confirmed it will range the BlackBerry PlayBook when it launches next year

Projected sales for tablet devices in 2011 are “staggering”, according to 20:20 Mobile sales director Jon Miller. The Apple iPad has sold more than four million units globally since May, he observed.

But Miller admitted he has mixed feelings, and suggested the success of new tablet devices will be defined by their mobility functions and business uses.

Miller said: “Most people are still evaluating this area of business. Is it just a fad or is it something intrinsic to the overall offering? There are some really mixed feelings about tablets at the moment. We have spoken to manufacturers, retailers and operators about it and everyone has a slightly different opinion. No one is really sure.

“The market research data we have seen suggests sales of tablets will be pretty staggering. Will they really be that significant? It’s hard to tell. Certainly the iPad has sold well, and is the trend setter. But the thing for us is to understand where the tablet fits in to the overall proposition. With the PlayBook it fits with a BlackBerry user perfectly. Other tablets might exist as totally separate entities.

“We expect to be in this market in some way. It’s just very difficult to see how big or how niche a role tablets will play in the market.”

Miller said 20:20 Mobile has tripled sales of BlackBerry devices in the three years since it struck a direct supply arrangement for SIM-free kit with manufacturer RIM. It had resold BlackBerry kit via third-parties previously.

Miller said: “BlackBerry handsets are a key part of our portfolio and compliment everything else we do here. Our sales of BlackBerry devices have grown in line with its market share, if not more substantially.

“It has been a massive success for us in the UK and in our international operations. We started off with SIM-free BlackBerry sales around three years ago, the first UK distributor to do so, and we have seen a consistent growth in that period of time.

“We have not only seen a  huge growth in unit sales but also seen growth in terms of value-added services around those products. It helps us as a business. It is a pan-European agreement, so that UK collaboration works in other markets too. We work with RIM in 15 European countries.”

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