Research In Motion's PlayBook may have sold 45,000 units on the first day of launch, according to Jefferies & Co. It's no iPad 2, but it's got some interest despite no AT&T BlackBerry tethering.
Those expecting Apple iPad-like lines for Research In Motion's
PlayBook April 19 might consider the device a failure, but at least one analyst
called the device a success for shipping at least 45,000 units at launch.
The 7-inch PlayBook costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599
for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB version, in line with Apple's iPad 2. eWEEK's
full review of the device is
The tablet features the QNX operating system and the
BlackBerry Bridge tethering feature that connects the tablet to a BlackBerry
smartphone via Bluetooth and WiFi to display the phone's email, calendar and contacts.
The PlayBook features no native email app, although RIM has promised one in the
next 60 days.
With no native email app, buggy software and
from major publications, the PlayBook hardly warranted overnight
waiting for the masses.
Yet Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek said that
sell-through surveys taken at Best Buy and Staples indicated sales excluding
preorders of 20,000 PlayBooks, mostly for the 32GB and 64GB versions. With
consumer preorders of 25,000 units, Misek estimated 45,000 PlayBook units
"If correct, 45K+ sell though on the first day would
be a success," Misek wrote April 20. "We also estimate enterprise
preorders to be meaningfully higher than consumer. We think PlayBook sales are
far exceeding MMI's [Motorola Mobility's] Xoom sales."
In the aftermath of all of the negative reviews, such a
number may seem positive for the PlayBook. Yet it's important to remember
Apple's iPad 2
may have sold as much as 500,000 units the first day last month, outselling the PlayBook
by a factor of 10.
Still, Misek appreciated the device's application speed
(powered by a 1GHz processor), ease-of-use, and responsiveness, and said the
"videos were beautiful, games easy to use."
No doubt this is thanks largely to the Adobe Flash
support, which even the most bearish of reviewers said was far and away the
best ever on a tablet. And yet Misek isn't ready to part with his iPad 2.
"We like the Playbook but cannot see giving up our
iPad 2 for it," Misek said. "We believe it will capture a slice of
the market but iPad will be the majority."
Misek chalked up the PlayBook launch as a success despite
the appearance of another, unforeseen snafu: AT&T doesn't provide free tethering
for the PlayBook.
While Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile are allowing
the free installation of the BlackBerry Bridge tethering tool on their
BlackBerry to port email to the PlayBook, AT&T blocks it because the
company has not been able to test the software yet.
Another sticking point is that AT&T also would not
confirm it would be free; AT&T store workers stated tethering the Playbook
would cost $45 a month.
Misek said 8 million of 60 million BlackBerry users are
on AT&T, making the lack of free tethering support "obviously
disappointing," tempering the upside to an overall successful first day
for the PlayBook.
The developments--or lack thereof--set the stage for
a potentially interesting RIM's BlackBerry World developer conference,
beginning May 3.
Developers will likely have several questions
about the BlackBerry App World development scheme, as well as the
expected "app players"
that PlayBook users may download to install
any of 25,000 BlackBerry Java apps and 200,000 Android apps from
BlackBerry App World.