Back to PlayBook for RIM on BlackBerry Tablet, Reviews Suggest

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion needs a new play book.

That's the initial takeaway from the company's much-anticipated tablet device, the PlayBook, which drew far more jeers than cheers in its debut yesterday. Analysts said RIM, whose shares dropped more than 3 percent after the poor reviews, will have to quickly up its game if it hopes to compete in the hot tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad.

"No one is going to confuse this [PlayBook] with the iPad," said Daniel Ernst, a tech analyst at Hudson Square Research.

According to reviewers, one of the most glaring shortcomings is the PlayBook doesn't have an independent function for email, calendars, or address books. Instead, users are forced to connect, or "tether," their existing BlackBerrys to the device for access to email and the Internet.

Reviewers also panned the PlayBook's dearth of apps -- about 3,000 compared to more than 300,000 for its competitors.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it plans on making software upgrades to the tablet by the summer.

"The reality is it needs more work. The question is, do they have time to do this?" said Richard Tse, analyst at Cormark Securities.

RIM is hoping to sell as many as 9 million or 10 million PlayBook units over the next 10 months, according to sources, while consensus estimates for sales of the device are in the 3 million ballpark.

But some analysts said that reviewers are missing the point. The PlayBook was designed first and foremost to first target existing BlackBerry users. The tablet is also a platform for RIM's new QNX operating system, which is slated to be transitioned into all RIM devices.

"This is not a perfect product, but it's a good start," said Avian Securities analyst Matthew Thornton.

Read more at the New York Post.