updated 11:45 am EDT, Fri May 20, 2011
Store chain claims PlayBook sales falling short
An insider at a "major big box retailer" asserted Friday that sales of the BlackBerry PlayBook had been perilously low. The unnamed but reportedly reliable source claimed to BGR that RIM's tablet had missed the store chain's sales targets by over 90 percent. Dissatisfaction was also supposedly very high, he said, with returns at a "much higher rate" than the Motorola Xoom, whose own return rate was higher than average at seven percent.
The distribution of the PlayBook leaves relatively few possibilities for who would float claims of poor sales. Best Buy, Fry's, Office Depot, and Staples are the main resellers, and Best Buy through its scale is known to be the largest supplier.
Claims of the sort would partly clash with analyst estimates of 250,000 shipped so far. Even if precise, though, it would only represent the units delivered to stores and not those bought by customers. RIM in its outlook said shipments were good but didn't quantify or discuss sell-through.
If validated later, the figures could show a major crisis for RIM's first venture into tablets. The company has repeatedly tried to dismiss the iPad and Android tablets by claiming that "amateur hour is over" and that it had the first "professional-grade" tablet. A rushed release, however, has left out major native apps such as e-mail, a calendar, or easy video sharing features, with video chat only coming a few weeks afterwards.
RIM has been asked for comment but hasn't had an opportunity to respond as of this writing. More concrete figures aren't expected until the company's official results are posted on June 16.