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9/14/2011
10:09 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab Hammering RIM PlayBook

Competing tablets are outselling RIM's PlayBook by a huge margin, leading many analysts to further reduce RIM's chances of scoring a victory in the tablet market.

Research In Motion will report its second fiscal 2012 quarterly earnings on Thursday, and analysts are not hopeful that the news will be good--especially when it comes to PlayBook sales.

RIM is expected to announce that it sold 490,000 PlayBook tablets between June 1 and September 1, the tablet's first full quarter of availability. The PlayBook went on sale April 19, and RIM reported sales of 550,000 during the partial quarter it was available between April 19 and May 31. That means RIM will have sold just over 1 million PlayBooks between April 19 and now. The company is doing everything it can to sell PlayBooks.

By way of comparison, Apple shipped 9.25 million iPads last quarter. Apple is expected to ship a whopping 39.2 million iPads this year, and Samsung is expected to ship 7 million Galaxy Tabs. In a survey of analysts conducted by Bloomberg, many had sliced PlayBook sales estimates by as much as 40% for the year.

RIM will ship about 1.5 million tablets during its 2012 fiscal year, said Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity. "RIM hasn't given up on the PlayBook, but it's clearly off to a poor start," he said.

I'll say.

Walkley's estimates for the PlayBook are particularly low. Others give RIM a little more credit. Bloomberg notes that Robert W Baird cut his estimate from 2.45 million to 2 million, and Steven Li, an analyst at Raymond James, chopped his estimates from 4 million to 2.4 million.

Mashing all these estimates together suggests that RIM is likely to sell just over 2 million PlayBooks during its first year. Investors are not happy.

Meanwhile, RIM has launched a new wave of BlackBerrys running its new BlackBerry 7 platform. As solid as the devices are compared to earlier BlackBerry models, they still don't match the features and capabilities of competing smartphones from Google and Apple.

"Consumer-centric retail store checks indicated smartphone customers continue to overwhelmingly choose the iPhone 4 or new Android smartphones," said Canaccord's Walkley. At least RIM is scoring some enterprise-level sales with the new Bold 9900/9930, which pairs a high-quality QWERTY keyboard with a smaller touchscreen.

RIM needs to sell the new BB7 smartphones at a strong enough clip for another four to six months as it prepares its line of new QNX-based BlackBerrys. QNX is the same base code that runs on the PlayBook. But with the iPhone 5 and new Android smartphones on deck, will interest in them remain high enough to sustain RIM?

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