RIM Denies Report PlayBook Is Dead

Research In Motion quickly moved to squash an analyst report that it has abandoned its BlackBerry PlayBook business.
Collins Stewart semiconductor analyst John Vihn sent the tech world into a tizzy on Thursday by suggesting to his investors that RIM has given up on its PlayBook tablet.

"We believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market," Vihn said in a note to clients. "While Quanta last week acknowledged that it had laid off a significant number of production workers from a factory focused on producing the PlayBook, our research indicates that the ODM [original design manufacturer] has essentially halted production of the tablet. Additionally, our due diligence indicates that RIMM has canceled development of additional tablet projects."

Bollocks, says RIM.

"RIM doesn't typically comment on rumors, but any suggestion that the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued is pure fiction," said in a statement emailed to InformationWeek. "RIM remains highly committed to the tablet market."

Vihn's note arrived the same day that Best Buy slashed the price of the PlayBook by $200, and other retailers, such as Office Depot and Staples, are also offering steep discounts on the tablet.

RIM has to-date shipped only about 750,000 PlayBook tablets since its April 20 debut. The sales figures are far, far below the industry-leading iPad, which has sales totals in the tens of millions.

One of the criticisms of the PlayBook tablet is that there aren't enough applications available to it. Earlier this year, RIM said that the PlayBook will eventually be able to run applications designed for Google's Android platform in an emulator environment.

That emulator is due to arrive in just a few weeks via a system update scheduled for the PlayBook. RIM expects Android developers to use its tools to make the applications function on the PlayBook (even though not all Android apps will run on the PlayBook). RIM hopes that adding the ability to run Android applications, even in a limited capacity, will boost interest in the PlayBook.

What do you think? Is RIM doing enough to make the PlayBook appealing? Will the Android emulator help? Or is its commitment to the PlayBook misplaced and too much of RIM's attention away from its smartphones?

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