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BlackBerry PlayBook: should RIM just cut its losses?

BlackBerry PlayBook: should RIM just cut its losses?

To say the past week has been bad for Research in Motion (RIM) is as big an understatement as suggesting Facebook users aren’t too impressed with the recent myriad changes to the social network.

The BlackBerry-maker revealed last week that a mere 200,000 units of its PlayBook were sold in its second financial quarter. And earlier this week, the company that assembles the slate, Quanta Computer, said it was cutting 1,000 staff on its production because orders have fallen back drastically.

Blackberry Playbook

In fact, things are so bad that sources claimed that just 100,000 PlayBooks had been shipped in the third quarter. RIM has slashed its forecasts for PlayBook sales, which initially stood at a highly optimistic five million back in April.

Yes, the company has promised the much-needed native email update next month. But then it did also previously say that self-same software boost would be out in the summer. Last time we checked, October wasn’t the balmiest of months.

It all begs the question, just why is RIM persisting with its tablet? It’s clearly gone unloved by the general public, a victim of the iPad’s success, Android Honeycomb tablets offering a much better range of apps and RIM’s own abject failure to ensure it worked perfectly on release.

The company could learn a thing or two from HP. Shelving the TouchPad garnered it plenty of goodwill and garnered some good PR out of what should by rights have been a disastrous story.

HP TouchPad UI and multitasking

Because although RIM is not exactly doing great right now, it’s actually not doing terribly in other areas. It’s still making money and still shifting sufficient smartphones to be profitable, even if they’re not selling in the same numbers as years gone by.

But the PlayBook is becoming a worrying distraction. Especially when fighting the smartphone war against the ever-growing threat of Android and iOS is vital to the Canadian company’s survival.

Shelving the PlayBook would have been easier had RIM been able to release QNX-backed smartphones sooner. Because these next-generation devices have been delayed, the PlayBook stands alone as the only device using the impressive operating system. Scrapping it now would mean the OS had essentially failed to impress.

It would have made sense to release a phone using the OS first. As it stands, now the situation means RIM are stuck supporting a device that the gadget-buying public just isn’t interested in buying.

QNX means RIM won’t pull its tablet just yet. But if it had any sense, it would slash the price and bring the curtain down on a device which was always destined to struggle.

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