updated 05:50 pm EDT, Wed September 14, 2011
Analysts harsh on RIM ahead of summer results
Analysts were pessimistic about RIM on Wednesday as few expected strong results for the BlackBerry PlayBook. A new consensus of several major analysts had RIM shipping an average of 490,000 of the tablets in the summer quarter it will report tomorrow. The Bloomberg overview would have RIM's shipments lower than the spring and would have it down to an average estimate of 2.2 million PlayBooks the entire year.
At the going rate, RIM would be shipping one PlayBook for every 19 iPads Apple sells, with Apple having shipped 9.25 million iPads just in the spring alone.
Reasons for the lower estimates vary, though Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf said RIM had "overplayed" the tablet. Many have pointed to RIM presuming that its control of the corporate smartphone world and its brand name automatically translating to strong PlayBook sales. Although not yet confirmed, RIM is rumored to have cut its targets dramatically after a cooler response.
As supporting evidence, many have pointed to the ironic claims RIM made when the PlayBook first launched. The firm claimed to have the first "professional-grade" tablet and argued that "amateur hour is over," implying directly that the iPad was unsuited to work. In practice, the PlayBook was rushed to market without native e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger, or calendars, making it unsuitable for work unless paired up with a BlackBerry phone at the same time. The update was once promised for 60 days after launch but, after a delay to the end of summer, still hasn't arrived.
The harshest words have come from Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, who stated in his own note that he didn't see RIM reversing its current positions either in phones or tablets. He saw no "meaningful evidence" of a recovery in phones and added that phones like the Bold 9900 should have been available 1.5 to two years ago. He was skeptical of RIM's PlayBook sell-through, or its deliveries to real customers, and imagined that RIM might have to drop the PlayBook like HP killed its webOS hardware.
"RIM will likely send the PlayBook into the same graveyard as the HP TouchPad," Blair claimed.
The PlayBook has been successful enough to outsell a large number of Android tablets and has been well-received in some areas, such as its build quality and adeptness at handling multitasking. By skipping important on-device apps, however, it automatically limited most of the appeal to a declining BlackBerry phone subscriber base. RIM's short-term hopes are now back on a massive refresh of its BlackBerry phones that brought in phones like the Bold 9900, Curve 9360, and Torch 9860 that finally have modern performance, 3D games, and features like fast web browsers.