updated 04:15 pm EST, Tue November 30, 2010
JPMorgan hands out iPads while skipping PlayBook
JPMorgan is handing out iPads to its staff in what could be a major upset to RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, a handful of leaked e-mail has uncovered. Every associate in its global investment banking group will have one to use from the start of a trial until it ends on May 1. The messages obtained by Bloomberg had managers arguing that it was both a genuine help to productivity as well as a way to keep bankers entertained.
"We believe there are real benefits in our working environment that can be realized using this device - as well as the personal productivity and enjoyment that come as part of the package," one e-mail explained. "There are a variety of ways to leverage the iPad. Some work off-the-shelf whilst others rely on JPMorgan software/security tools."
The bank didn't guarantee that it would keep the iPad on a permanent basis, but it did say it might repeat the process or "expand it to others" if successful.
JPMorgan has already expanded beyond its once BlackBerry-only strategy by allowing other phones on its network, but the move would represent a large wound to RIM in its attempt to get early corporate support for the PlayBook. The Canadian company has constantly stressed that the PlayBook has "professional-grade" features and security but, outside of an early deal with SunLife insurance in Canada, hasn't had any major corporate interest. Some of the issue has stemmed from timing, since RIM only unveiled the PlayBook in September, half a year before it was scheduled to ship to the US, and with both an untested new OS and a lack of demo units has made it impossible to gauge the viability of using them on a wide scale.
Apple in contrast has been shipping iOS for over three years and now has many of the corporate features that had once kept Apple out, such as sufficiently high-grade encryption and support for remote wipes and app loading. The iPad may also be more functional for some traveling workers as it already has built-in 3G where the PlayBook will need an expansion or a later, separate version.
RIM had been one of the fastest growing mobile companies in the world until the middle of the year, when the number of new phones it shipped leveled off and let faster-moving companies gain the upper hand. Apple shipped two million more phones and itself was eclipsed by collective Android sales. The JPMorgan deal may see a repeat of this more recent pattern in the tablet space and could see Apple outselling RIM once both are on the market.