Monday, May 16, 2011
Uh-Oh, RIM Fumbles PlayBook Again; Heads May Roll
It's another fumble for Research In Motion's PlayBook as the company has recalled 1,000 tablets with a faulty operating system. While many of the PlayBooks haven't made it to customers, those that have are not loading software properly. RIM's PlayBook has been widely criticized for a lack of features, and observers expect a shake-up at RIM.
After fumbling the PlayBook product launch by many measures, Research In Motion has now fumbled the broader execution of its tablet Relevant Products/Services computer Relevant Products/Services. Some analysts are expecting an executive shake-up.
RIM is recalling about 1,000 PlayBook tablets because they were shipped with an operating-system glitch. That glitch may be hindering users from doing initial setups. According to RIM, the saving grace is that most of the tablets with the faulty operating systems haven't yet reached consumers.
"RIM is working to replace the affected devices," the company said. "In the small number of cases where a customer received a PlayBook that is unable to properly load software Relevant Products/Services upon initial setup, they can contact RIM for assistance."
Before the PlayBook even got out of the gate, some reviewers suggested that consumers hold off on buying the device Relevant Products/Services. RIM's frequent software updates to reviewer-held PlayBooks may have also dampened the experience. News reports cited software updates even during the week since the device was out for review.
One of the biggest criticisms of the PlayBook is the lack of native e-mail. RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told The Wall Street Journal that this feature is on the way. In the meantime, he suggested people use webmail.
"How do you bring out a RIM product without an e-mail client? That would be like Schwinn launching something that wasn't a bicycle. They missed who they were with that offering," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "Then it comes out and then it's faulty and has to go back in. There's a huge amount of pressure for them to replace their executive staff, and this is just going to increase that pressure."
'Running with Scissors'
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has defended the PlayBook strategy aggressively, even up until less than two weeks ago. Lazaridis has said RIM is in a "transition time" and that the BlackBerry 7 smartphone Relevant Products/Services operating system is just the beginning. RIM plans to merge the BlackBerry and PlayBook QNX platforms in early 2012.
RIM tried to gain the market's confidence at BlackBerry World earlier this month. RIM has updated the PlayBook tablet to add video Relevant Products/Services chat, BlackBerry Messenger, document editing, and home-screen browser bookmarks. RIM even offered a demo of some soon-to-be-released Android apps Relevant Products/Services for the PlayBook, including the popular Angry Birds game. And RIM promised native e-mail is soon to come.
But it may be too little too late to shield the company from an executive shake-up. "RIM is not executing well. Stockholders are not tolerant of a firm that is struggling and is having execution problems," Enderle said. "That appears to be not a market issue. It's a management issue. It's like watching a company running with scissors. It's just not working."