The BlackBerry PlayBook beat expectations by selling more than 50,000 devices when it launched Tuesday, according to estimates from RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.
That puts Research in Motion’s first crack at a tablet ahead of the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab in regards to units moved on launch day. Several analysts said the strong first-day showing probably came from pre-sales to business customers already toting a BlackBerry smartphone, which is critical to access some features on the PlayBook.
The 7-inch tablet in of itself is not a bad device by any stretch of the imagination in terms of build and operating system. I got an opportunity to play with the PlayBook at the CTIA Wireless 2011 conference this year and was blown away by how silky-smooth the interface feels. Unlike Motorola’s Xoom — and the other Android tablets — there was virtually no interface lag to speak of. The multitasking was intuitive and the whole device just felt like a labor of love.
It just doesn’t have the apps to back it up.
Research in Motion said 3,000 apps were ready at launch. But the iPad already sports more than 79,000 native tablet applications, and more than 300,000 iPhone applications that run on the iPad. Google is also pushing out a new version of its Android mobile operating system that is geared toward tablets as it makes a strong push into the tablet market — which will already have access to the more than 100,000 apps on the Android Marketplace. The PlayBook will support some Android applications, but none of them will be native — so they might face performance issues.
The PlayBook also still doesn’t sport a native email client and is missing a lot of other crucial BlackBerry features, like BlackBerry messaging and a calendar application. PlayBook owners have to connect the PlayBook with a BlackBerry phone with bluetooth wireless to gain access to those features. It’s largely for security reasons — but those missing features cripple the PlayBook when compared to other dominant tablets on the market like the iPad.
GMP Analyst Michael Urlocker downgraded Research in Motion today despite the announcement, saying the BlackBerry PlayBook was not ready for the market due to missing features and a lack of applications. Apple’s iPad has so far sold more than 15 million units since it launched last April.
And last checked, Verizon was still mulling over whether to carry Research in Motion’s tablet. New versions of the PlayBook that support various wireless networks should be out later this summer — though no wireless providers have jumped on board with Research in Motion yet. So the PlayBook still can’t stand up in terms of sheer portability for tablet users that don’t have a BlackBerry smartphone to tether to the device.
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