AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced that it will finally support Research In Motion Ltd.'s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry Bridge for the PlayBook. While access to information of a BlackBerry will come at no extra cost, AT&T plans to charge $20 per month for tethering to access web content.
BlackBerry Bridge will allow for connectivity to a BlackBerry smartphone to access native contact, email, calendar and other information on a BlackBerry smartphone, as well as web access over mobile networks.
We have confirmed AT&T’s support via the BlackBerry World app store. We believe one of the key enterprise selling points of the PlayBook has been to access the PIM (personal information management) and messaging capabilities of a BlackBerry smartphone without keeping the data native, which could be a security concern for enterprises, said Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.
While the delay was unfortunate, Sutherland believes it was partially due to AT&T figuring out how to charge for the expected extra data usage. While BlackBerry Bridge could help sales of the PlayBook, he remains cautious overall regarding the PlayBook’s competitive positioning.
Sutherland believes the PlayBook is a good device that provides several intriguing applications for the enterprise, namely, security. However, with the smaller screen, less app support, and a less immersive media experience versus similarly priced 10” tablet, namely Apple Inc.'s iPad, he believe the PlayBook remains at a competitive disadvantage.
Of note, Sutherland believes simple media products such as direct support for movies and videos, lack of key games, and the ability to share content across an ecosystem of screens, will limit PlayBook sales. While the company did sell 500,000 in the first quarter of launch, he believes a material portion was channel fill.
The brokerage maintained its neutral rating on shares of RIM with a price target of $35.
Our price target is based on our discounted cash flow analysis and represents a 5.0 times multiple on our cash adjusted fiscal 2013 EPS estimate. This is a slight premium over our projected long-term EPS growth rate of 4.4 percent, which we believe is justified given transition challenges offset by the upcoming, though uninspiring, product roadmap and solid smartphone industry growth, said Sutherland.
RIM stock rose 0.48 percent to $29.07 on the NASDAQ Stock Market at 10:50 am EDT.