RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

Summary: With Research in Motion's BlackBerry World kicking off---and a new BlackBerry Bold with touch---all eyes remain on the PlayBook and whether the company's savior tablet will sell.

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With Research in Motion's BlackBerry World kicking off---and a new BlackBerry Bold with touch---all eyes remain on the PlayBook and whether the company's savior tablet will sell.

RIM is in the doghouse with Wall Street after cutting its earnings outlook. Meanwhile, RIM management is a bit short on credibility today. However, RIM's future still rests with its QNX-powered PlayBook.

Related: RIM announces BlackBerry Bold 9900, aka Bold Touch

CIBC analyst Todd Coupland set out to see how PlayBook sales were doing. The data is a bit thin, but Coupland checked in with 101 retailers in the U.S. and 27 in Canada between April 25 and April 27. What Coupland found is similar to what I found at my local Best Buy: PlayBook isn't the iPad 2 in terms of interest, but RIM's tablet is No. 2 in the interest department. Meanwhile, Best Buy reps appear to be knowledgeable about the PlayBook and giving it more of a push than its neighboring Android tablets.

Coupland's channel checks lead him to an expectation that RIM will sell 400,000 PlayBooks in the six weeks of the May quarter. That tally is 100,000 better than consensus estimates. Coupland said that enterprise sales will drive the PlayBook's launch, but retail sales will move about three devices a store to bring the tablet to the 400,000 sold mark.

The CIBC analyst writes:

The technology blogosphere has had a field day with their perception of RIM’s “lack of innovation”. Images of Mike Lazaridis holding a touch screen Curve and a presentation on an O/S update that does not involve QNX can hardly be seen as thrilling. These same thoughts have helped keep RIM’s EPS multiple depressed at 6.4x (or 6.6x consensus) this year’s earnings ex-cash versus Nokia at 10x ex-cash, Apple at 11x ex-cash, Motorola next year at 13x ex-cash and HTC this year at 15x excash. To add insult on top of injury, the Q1 profit warning affirms to many RIM’s discounted valuation. With that backdrop, it is our view that even a moderately successful launch of the Playbook would help improve RIM’s earnings multiple more than anything that could happen at Capital Markets Day. To get a better understanding of what is happening, we undertook an informal survey that sampled the 15,000 retail outlets that RIM announced as carrying the Playbook and have concluded that a solid launch appears to be benefiting from very positive in store product reviews.

The takeaways from Coupland's report:

  • Sales reps were knowledgeable about the PlayBook and could even explain BlackBerry Bridge well.
  • These reps were recommending the tablet---especially if you had a BlackBerry.
  • Speed and better browsing were the big selling points. Flash support was also touted.
  • The fact Samsung's Galaxy Tab required a contract turned customers off.
  • Best Buy and Staples are focusing on selling the 16GB PlayBook.
  • Office Depot consistently sold the 32GB and 64GB versions.
  • Canadian outlets have indicated PlayBook sales were strong. One FutureShop in Toronto was selling about 1- a day.

If you dig down to Coupland's granular data it appears that it's feast or famine with the PlayBook. Some outlets couldn't sell any, but others noted the PlayBook was selling well. The Best Buy comments appear to be the most constructive toward the PlayBook.

Related:

Topics: Mobile OS, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets

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7 comments
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  • Deal or no deal

    Does anybody here have experience running a Best Buy store (or something comparable)? Is a $500 item that sells three per store in six weeks something that hangs around, or something that the buyers take off the shelves if things don't improve?
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

    They can't keep iPads in stock. Nuff Said.
    dheady@...
    • RE: RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

      @dheady@... What about 1/day in that TO store.
      Bloggers and analysts consistently sell RIM short. Loudmouth fanboys overrun and ruin every discussion with noise.
      No matter how begrudgingly you all admit it. the Playbook looks like it will end up a winner. so how about the peanut gallery keep it shut for a while and see how this product, which looks to me like the strongest contender so far in terms of hardware and a solid OS, actually sells. The first really serious tablet for business.
      radleym
  • RE: RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

    @ dheady Human nature will like to own the world alone...it's impossible. There's too much to go round. One man's meat is another's poison. We will continue to share space and time...you got no choice, that's what's great about our system.
    adesugba@...
  • RE: RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

    Too bad they do not have a micro SD card slot. With it, I would buy it today.
    whs37
  • RE: RIM's PlayBook: Early read is that it's selling say analysts

    I got one on the first day. It's not perfect, but it is good. I bought it to work with my corporate BB Bold, and I like the Bridge. Tethering is not working yet, but I've decided it is a corporate setting on the Bluetooth services.

    If you have a data plan on any phone, it would be attractive, except for the current lack of apps. I'm waiting/hoping for MS IM and Google Maps. The Bing Maps works, but only on WiFi (for me) - which is nearly pointless. But I do have the BB Bold, so I have IM and Google Maps.

    I'm also waiting for:
    video conferencing,
    Skype,
    Bridge Tasks and Memo (to work),
    Attachments to open,
    Copy and Paste from Bridge Messages to other apps,
    Bridge Outlook messages in html (gmail works fine in html),
    SMS to come through the BB Bold,
    Hulu (to stop being jerks).

    Facebook works.
    Slacker works.
    Acrobat Reader works, but has no search, which for work is bad.
    Youtube works and is spectacular.
    The native podcast app is really amazing in video.
    The Playbook speakers are pretty good.
    NFS Undercover is good, but I don't play games.

    BTW, when Bridged, the Playbook effectively has an SD card - in the BB. It's only currently available for email attachments, but it's only a matter of time before someone makes the BB micro SD available for music, pictures, documents, etc. Tethered should also work for a phone's micro SD.

    I like the size and think that if android apps become available, the Playbook will sell well.
    Masnor
  • PlayBook a Winner! - iHaters are in love !

    " A win for iHaters" (my pet name for all of you that love to hate Apple) You may have found a Winning "Tab" for you to love?

    I had a look at a PlayBook and found it to be a contender to the iPad2 . Runs fast , nice graphics, very " Mac Like" lots of Apple DNA to be found. UI very easy to use, OSX screen layout looks like it was lifted right off a Mac. I like this so much I may have to buy one just for the fun of it! Not sure how much Mac connectivity will be available at the start. I give it 9 out of 10, but take back 5 points for the lack of any real Apps and some other shortcomings . The Apps will only take a few years or so make it to market.
    MacNewton