It's not the iPad, but Research In Motion will not concede that its PlayBook tablet has been a major league flop like many of its tablet brethren.
Last week, an anonymous big-box retailer source reportedly told the blog Boy Genius Report that sales of the Playbook have been underwhelming. The source said sales were 90 percent off of its target and the tablet allegedly has a high return rate. RIM immediately fired back. The source of the reported comment is anonymous and unknown to RIM, but the comment is certainly inconsistent with the positive feedback we have received from our main retail partners. As previously indicated, RIM will provide a business update on BlackBerry PlayBook results on June 16, a spokesperson from RIM said.
Best Buy, one of the big-box retailers to carry the PlayBook,defended RIM and the tablet. We set high expectations for the PlayBook and to date, we have far exceeded those expectations and we're finding that customers are even more interested in purchasing once they've tested the PlayBook in the store, the retailer said in a statement.
RIM got some help from an analyst as well. RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky recently released research saying RIM sold 250,000 Playbooks in the first month since its release. Abramsky said the company was on pace to sell 500,000 by the end of the first quarter.
While this would be less than Abramsky's original prediction of four million, it would a lot better than Samsung's Galaxy Tab or Motorola's Xoom. Analysts estimate at maximum only 125,000 Xoom tablets were sold in its first few months of availability, and Samsung itself admitted the Tab's sales were quite underwhelming.
It's been a rough few weeks for RIM. The company had to recall 1,000 PlayBook tablets because of defective operating software last week. Earlier this month, it lowered its Q1 guidance going from $1.47-$1.55 for projected earnings per share to $1.30-$1.37 per share.
The company's stock price dropped from $43.24 to $42.86, which is the lowest it has been in two years. It has since rebounded and is up to $43.60.
Other big-box retailers selling the PlayBook, Wal-Mart and RadioShack, did not respond to requests for comment.