Research In Motion's new tablet may have beaten Motorola's Xoom Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Tab in sales on the first day each was available.
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Slideshow: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Teardownr
The PlayBook was met with a lukewarm reception when it became available for sale on April 19. Retailers reported few lines of people waiting to buy the $499 tablet, which was roundly bashed by reviewers across the Web. That doesn't mean it didn't have a decent opening day.
Pipar Jeffries analyst Peter Misek estimated RIM sold about 45,000 PlayBooks at launch. Misek believes as many as 25,000 were pre-ordered, with the rest sold to people at retail stores on Tuesday. RBC analyst Mike Abramsky said he thinks 45,000 is a bit on the low side, and he pegged first-day sales at closer to 50,000.
"The launch appears to have been stronger than the launch of Motorola's Xoom Tablet, or the Samsung Galaxy Tab, although it's too early to judge sustainability," Abramsky said in a note to clients earlier this week.
RIM has not shared any detailed information on the number of PlayBooks sold. It's interesting to note that the PlayBook, despite its weaknesses, may have outsold the Motorola Xoom, which received much better reviews. How is this possible? First, the Xoom is much more expensive, with a starting price of $600. Off contract, it costs as much as $799. The PlayBook has a $100 lower starting point. Perhaps buyers were put off by the size of the Xoom. With its 10.1-inch display, it is a bit of a monster. The PlayBook's 7-inch display makes it much smaller and more portable.
Aside from the physical aspects and price, the other big factor is likely loyalty to the BlackBerry brand. They don't call them "crackberrys" for nothing.
As more tablets reach the market, including the LG G-Slate, HTC Flyer, and others, it will be interesting to watch the tablet market evolve. Either it will truly come into its own, or fail to materialize in the way that tech firms hope.
Beyond opening day sales, there's been some news in the land of the PlayBook. A significant system update has become available for the PlayBook from RIM. The new system update (126.96.36.1990) is 214 MB and takes about 15 minutes to download and install. It requires a reboot. RIM hasn't provided a changelog for the new system software other than to say that it enhances the operating system.
Right now, the PlayBook is available from a number of electronic retailers with Wi-Fi only. Versions of the PlayBook with 3G/4G won't be available until later this year. At this point, Sprint is the only carrier to commit to bringing a 4G version of the PlayBook to market, with WiMax on board. AT&T nor T-Mobile have said whether they will to stock the PlayBook.
Verizon is on the fence. "We're still evaluating the BlackBerry Playbook and have not made a determination as to whether we're going to distribute it," Brenda Raney, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman told Reuters.
That would be a harsh blow if Verizon Wireless decides to skip supporting the PlayBook. It already supports the Apple iPad, Motorola Xoom, and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
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