RIM can and must claw back corporate sales with PlayBook -

The word on some parts of the West Coast, apparently, is that you don't want paper in meetings anymore. It's all iPads and netbooks and notebooks and laptops. With the arrival of slate and tablet computing it could be great news for RIM, plagued recently by Blackberry contract losses, as its PlayBook prepares to launch.

iPads are the thing. In many circles presentation, vain as it may sound, is key - pulling an iPad out of a sleek leather binding is impressive, and the marketing that Apple's PR wizards manage to conjure means that to a great number of people - the device itself is impressive too.

There's a gap and RIM may have to pin its future on the PlayBook. While it is months before it goes on sale, it has already secured a 1,000 tablet contract with insurer Sun Life Financial. The Canadian arm of ING Groep NV also said it will commit to purchasing PlayBooks, while Manulife Financial Corp is testing the product to see how it can be utilised already, says Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Sun Life vice president Tom Reid told Bloomberg that the key selling point for the PlayBook is the encryption. 

RIM has been losing some ground in the smartphone market and has been plagued by security concerns in the second half of this year. If it can, er, play the PlayBook right and the hardware as well as software support backs it up - it's a serious contender for the corporate market. Just as the BlackBerry was before it lost its way. 

As a contender to the iPad for price, if "under $500" means $499 or $400 could turn out partially irrelevant. Accidentally opening Angry Birds isn't something you want in a meeting. The PlayBook must combine business functionality and quickness to load, with an aesthetically pleasing, easy to use product and it could be onto a serious winner.