Unveiling the new BlackBerry PlayBook in September, RIM was mum on the cost until now. The PlayBook's price tag sets it up to compete with Apple's iPad, which costs $499 for the least expensive 16GB Wi-Fi-only model.
The PlayBook has a 1,024x600 pixel, 7-inch display, which is smaller than the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. It includes both a front-facing and a rear-facing camera, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. The initial models will offer Wi-Fi-only connectivity, but RIM has said it plans to offer 3G and 4G models in the future. And unlike the iPad, the PlayBook will support Adobe Flash.
The PlayBook may be available through retail stores such as Best Buy and Target as well as from mobile carriers, Balsillie told Bloomberg. Following its North American debut, the tablet will be released elsewhere in the second quarter. South Korea will be one of the first countries on that list.
"Korea's such a strategic market, because it's so big, so innovative," Balsillie told. "It's going to be one of the very, very first."
RIM is one of many companies gearing up to to launch tablet computers as potential rivals to the popular iPad. Apple's tablet sold 3 million units in its first 80 days on the market. Some analysts believe that as of early October, Apple may have sold more than 8 million iPads.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently took a few jabs at RIM. Jobs touted Apple's apparent surge over RIM in the smartphone arena and also put down 7-inch tablets as being too small for "great tablet apps."
Jobs' remarks prompted Balsillie to strike back in a blog post, condemning Apple's "closed system" and saying that 7-inch tablets will be a big portion of the market. The RIM co-CEO also hit an optimistic tone in his Bloomberg interview, forecasting that the iPad's dominance in the tablet-computer market will "change when we're in the market."