Research in Motion sold over 250,000 Blackberry PlayBooks since April 19, matching the Motorola Xoom in unit shipments but in half the time, according to analysts.
RIM began selling its PlayBook April 19. Motorola began selling its Xoom February 24. Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha April 28 reported sales of 250,000 Xooms, which means the inaugural Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablet took twice as long to sell the same amount of tablets.
RBC analyst Mike Abramsky, who conducted channel checks to arrive at the 250,000 PlayBook number, said the embattled phone/tablet maker could sell as many as 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter.
"PlayBook sales remain steady since launch," Abramsky said in a research note. "Checks at 180 Best Buys show 14 percent of the 16GB model sold out, 71 percent of the 32GB model sold out and 84 percent of the 64GB model sold out; however, 32GB/64GB stock-outs appear allocation-related."
Those figures pale in the shadow of Apple's iPad, which sold 4.7 million in the first quarter alone.
However, considering the PlayBook suffered from poor reviews and a painful recall of 1,000 units last week, the PlayBook numbers have to be pleasant surprises for some industry analysts, even if RIM's Co-CEOS Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis adopt the "we told you so" attitudes they're entitled to.
Motorola's Xoom meanwhile continues to be battered by analysts who claim the device was released too early because they and consumers found Honeycomb to be buggy and prone to freezes of an inexplicable nature.
Given the negative associations of the Xoom, it may be too late for the slate to make a second impression.
However, there may be a silver lining for future Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10/1 models, as well as the PlayBook and HP's TouchPad.
Nielsen said that more than 95 percent of consumers have yet to buy a tablet. As of Q1 2011, only 4.8 percent of the roughly 12,000 U.S. consumers surveyed purchased a tablet.
Of course, that could also mean more green fields for the market-defining iPad to seed, but the other tablet makers need some hope to hold onto.