Research in Motion’s long-awaited entrance into the enterprise tablet market is just around the corner, but despite company optimism, industry analysts are divided about whether RIM will be able to dethrone Apple when it comes to tablets.

The RIM PlayBook, set to go on sale April 19, “is a key first step for RIM, which needs to rebuild its smartphone cred,” according to InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman, noting the company hasn’t released a significant upgrade to its device lineup since August. The company’s smartphone penetration among businesses and comparable pricing to the iPad ($500) should give the PlayBook a fighting chance.

The PlayBook will run two operating systems — RIM’s QNX and Google’s Android. By hedging its bets with Google, users will be able to run Android apps from the Android Market on the PlayBook out of the box.

As we’ve covered previously on The SmartVan, the PlayBook matches up with the iPad on price ($499, $599 and $699 for 16GB, 32GB and 64 GB models). And while the device’s 7-inch screen is significantly smaller than the iPad’s, the PlayBook is small enough to fit inside most technicians’ pockets — of course that’s without any rugged cases, which are a likely necessity for use in the field. Additionally, the PlayBook will be able to handle Flash video, which isn’t possible on an iPad.

Read more about enterprise tablets on Field Service Digita