Research In Motion
is learning a hard lesson in tablet sales. If you want to compete with Apple
's iPad, you can't launch a half-baked slate and hope buyers will scoop up your product based on promise and potential. Yet that's exactly what RIM did when it launched its BlackBerry PlayBook, a nifty 7-inch tablet with a slick operating system, intuitive controls, awesome multitasking, and other high points, but missing critical features like native email and contacts support -- do'h!
As a result, RIM only sold 200,000 PlayBook during the last quarter, a rather dismal number that in and of itself doesn't tell the whole story. After reducing its outlook, RIM was hoping to sell 490,000 PlayBooks last quarter. Ouch. But what really hurts is that amounts to a little less than 1 PlayBook for every 23 iPad devices sold during the same period. That's what you call a gut punch, and now it's time for a gut check. Should RIM abandon tablets like HP did?
That isn't in the cards, at least not yet. Instead, RIM Co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis told investors the company is starting up a bunch of programs designed to push PlayBook sales, including special rebates and deals for existing customers, CNet reports
. How much of a price cut? Mr. Lazaridis didn't say, though it's safe to assume it won't be a $99 fire sale.
Pricing is only part of the problem, however. For many the real deal breaker is the lack of native email, contacts, and calendar support. These are inexcusable omissions for a modern device and it's even more egregious that they're still missing. Come next month, however, RIM's PlayBook 2.0 update will address these shortcomings and throw in an Android app emulator for good measure, as well as some other goodies.
Too little too late? Not really. As we stated in our review
, "our feelings towards the PlayBook are positive," RIM just needs to ship a finished product and do so at a discounted price. Hang tight for a month and it looks as though both of those will happen.