RIM Drastically Cuts PlayBook Sales Target, Report Says

RIM has cut its sales target for PlayBook tablets in the second quarter to one-third of the original estimate, according to Taiwan-based suppliers cited in a report.

RIM declined comment on the report in Digitimes , which cited unnamed sources in the supply chain. RIM adjusted its original second-quarter sales target downward, from 2.4 million units to 800,000-900,000 units, according to the report.

The report differs from comments made last week by RIM officials who said they were pleased with the 500,000 PlayBook sales during the final six weeks of RIM's first quarter that ended May 28.

Those Playbook figures were one of the few bright spots in a dreary overall financial report of RIM's first-quarter results which included lowered smartphone revenues, expected layoffs and product shipment delays.

Even so, RIM said in the conference call (registration required) that the PlayBook had recently been launched in 11 markets outside the U.S., with another five markets to follow in coming weeks, where the sales opportunity is as large as in North America. Last week, the PlayBook launched in the U.K. in 730 retail stores "and early feedback has been excellent," officials said on the call.

Digitimes is normally a reliable source of information, even with unnamed sources. Its industry sources for the RIM PlayBook story tended to differ from RIM's message by noting that PlayBook demand after the first day of sales in April was lower than expected. "Since the company was only able to sell about 500,000 units in total by early June, it will be difficult for the company to achieve its original [second-quarter] goal," the story said, citing the unnamed sources.

Analysts such as Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates said the initial report of 500,000 PlayBook sales was encouraging, even if the figure is well-behind sales of the Apple iPad , the front-runner tablet. Orders from Apple to suppliers are expected to reach 8 million to 10 million in the second quarter, Digitimes said.

Digitimes said that shipments for the Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia, Asustek EeePad Transformer and the PlayBook average 100,000 to 200,000 units per device model, per month.

RIM last week said its cellular-connected PlayBooks running over WiMax or HSPA+ or LTE networks have been delayed until the fall, after RIM originally said they would ship this summer. The current version is Wi-Fi only.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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