updated 11:05 pm EDT, Tue April 19, 2011
BlackBerry PlayBook faces lukewarm launch
RIM's expectations for the BlackBerry PlayBook were half-met on Wednesday with some sales but little of the fanfare hoped for with the launch. One anecdote in Toronto, an hour and a half from RIM's Waterloo headquarters, illustrated some sales but little buzz. A flagship Future Shop in the heart of the city had a significant number of pre-orders but over-prepared for the launch, opening early and hiring a catering company when just two people showed up by doors open.
"As a RIM investor, I was sort of hoping there would be more customers than reporters here," first-in-line Henry Kim told the Financial Post.
About a dozen people city-wide lined up based on cursory checks.
In San Francisco, a similar report had strong sales at Best Buy and Office Depot, although neither had quantified to Wired how many had traded hands. Others either hadn't received supply or, at other Office Depots, still had ample stock. An update from Manhattan by Barron's showed one Best Buy sold out and no signs of special attention to the introduction.
RIM hadn't built up the launch to a large degree and started an early pre-order campaign that gave early adopters roughly a month ahead, reducing the incentive to show up early. Its mild approach to promoting the hardware in-store also left it fighting for retail space and often receiving little to no extra attention.
Apple is commonly believed to have declined any pre-orders for the iPad 2 and announced relatively quickly to build up lines but saw its online orders backlogged by three to four weeks even in the few hours of online-only sales before retail stores were ready.
Some of the release may have been tempered by mixed reviews. Buyers like Kim argued that "messaging is more important than apps" but bought a device that couldn't check e-mail or calendars at all without a nearby BlackBerry and didn't get BlackBerry Messenger in any form on the first day. The OS has been praised for being relatively intuitive and good at multitasking but is also missing features intended for the hardware, like video chat, and has a slim choice of apps.