By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Australia’s Research in Motion (RIM) team has taken a brave leap forward in its channel and trade strategies, with its PlayBook tablet broadly penetrating the mass market – a first for any RIM device.

At the official launch press conference yesterday, local managing director Adele Beachley acknowledged the work of three channel partners is assisting RIM in this progression. Distributor Ingram Micro, launch partner Harvey Norman and telco Vodafone were all praised, with Beachley saying that this new mass market presence is just the start for RIM.

“We’ve formed a couple of new relationships: with Ingram Micro, specifically initially for the PlayBook, and Ingram Micro has been helping us in the PlayBook launch, through our launch partner Harvey Norman,” she said.

“We’re incredibly happy with how that’s been going, and I think for the first time, what we’re seeing is that RIM and BlackBerry, through the PlayBook launch, is now in mass retail nationwide.

“That’s a huge step forward for us, and it’s really just an initial step, and we’ll continue to grow those retail relationships across Australia for both PlayBook, but also for BlackBerry smartphones, so we’re very, very excited about that.”

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RIM’s primary distribution channel for its BlackBerry devices has been the commercial or enterprise space, which can best understand and make use of its acclaimed security features. The BlackBerry is broadly acknowledged as having the most secure push email service. With the PlayBook, RIM is entering unchartered territory, with this 7-inch tablet now on sale in Harvey Norman. Beachley said interest has been strong.

“We launched in Harvey Norman on 20 June 2011 — we’ve seen very, very strong interest from both consumers and business.

“Vodafone launched yesterday as a bundled offer. They’ve done a great job packaging that up, so we’ve got a 9780 and a PlayBook available in store.”

That bundle, according to ‘Jeremy’ from the Vodafone sales hotline, is $59 per month over 24 months, with the first two months free (for a limited time), for a total minimum cost of $1,416.

The PlayBook through retail is RRP $579 (16GB), $689 (32GB) and $799 (64GB).

Click here to read our first impressions of the BlackBerry PlayBook

Click here to read our full review of the BlackBerry PlayBook