Research in Motion is off to a slow start with its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Production of the device is in full swing, though only at a mere 150,000 to 200,000 units a month, according to sources at component suppliers who spoke to the news site Digitimes.
Shipments of the PlayBook could be ready as early as February, the part makers say. With the tablet expected to be released in the US some time in March, the current production output would give RIM a limited stock of the device.
If the PlayBook proves to be wildly successful, RIM could easily find itself unable to meet consumer demand. The company previously said it would have 1 million PlayBooks available at launch — now that number looks closer to 500,000. RIM can’t really afford to have anything go wrong with the PlayBook’s launch, as it will have to contend with upcoming Android-based tablets, like Motorola’s Xoom, as well as Apple’s iPad 2.
RIM is also reportedly restricting production of the PlayBook to hardware manufacturer Quanta’s Taiwanese plants. The company is worried that bootleg hardware manufacturers in China would get their hands on the tablet’s designs if it were produced there. Restricting production to Taiwan would also help protect the device’s security specifications — something that’s extremely important to RIM, since it still needs to convince businesses (and more importantly, their IT departments) to adopt the device.
There’s still apparently room for RIM to ramp up production of the PlayBook at Quanta’s Taiwanese plants, but I predict the company will keep production low until it sees just how much US consumers and businesses want the device.