HP exec accuses RIM's PlayBook of imitating TouchPad's webOS

The tablet wars are getting testy ahead of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) expected launch of the second-generation iPad.

HP’s TouchPad, left, and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBookHewlett-Packard has insinuated that Research in Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) tablet computer, the BlackBerry PlayBook, bears a striking resemblance to HP's webOS-powered TouchPad tablet, which was announced last month. RIM introduced its PlayBook in September; the device runs software from QNX. Neither tablet has been commercially released.

The two products do have similarities, in that they both turn applications into cards that can be swiped through for multitasking--Palm first introduced the card metaphor for multitasking with the release of its webOS platform in January 2009. HP purchased Palm last year, and last month HP introduced a trio of new webOS-powered devices.

"From what we've seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities" between the TouchPad and the PlayBook, John Oaks, HP's director of product marketing for TouchPad, told Laptop Magazine. "It's a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market, so we just know that we have the creative engine here to continue to build on what we have, and we'll keep innovating, we'll keep honing--and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year."  

Jeff McDowell, RIM's senior vice president of enterprise and platform marketing, offered a notable response to Laptop: "You know, cars over time end up looking a lot alike because you put them through a wind tunnel, and when you're trying to come up with the best coefficient-to-drag ratio, there's one optimized shape that gets the best wind resistance, right?" McDowell said. "Well, when you're trying to optimize user experience that juggles multitasking, multiple apps open at once and on a small screen, you're going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs."

RIM plans to eventually transition its BlackBerry smartphones onto the QNX software powering its PlayBook, making the platform key to the vendor's long-term plans.

For more:
- see this Laptop Magazine article

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RIM's transition to QNX hinges on software development, not hardware
RIM's Playbook may run Android apps
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