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RIM cuts PlayBook sales forecast, report says

Summer sales boost on improved models

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BlackBerry maker RIM is reported to have slashed its sales forecast for the PlayBook by well over one million units a week after it launched in the UK.

The tablet, RIM's pitch against the dominance of Apple's shiny slate, arrived in the US consumer channels during Q1 with around 500,000 shipped, below expectations, and reports claim Q2 targets have been slashed from 2.4 million to 800,000 to 900,000, according to Digitimes.

The publication reckons "market watchers" tell it sales will get a boost when the newer versions are released later in the year.

RIM confirmed in a Q1 conference call with analysts last week that 4G models for WiMAX, LTE and HSPA+ are due in the autumn, with co-chief executive Jim Balsillie citing "capability gaps" in the products when they were released in the US.

In the UK, RIM signed 60-day exclusive deals for PlayBook from 16 June with telco retailers Carphone Warehouse and Phone4U, retailers PC World and Best Buy and, for the business market, Insight rights to the product ahead of rivals.

Paul Bolt, marketing director at Insight, said it will pursue the BlackBerry installed base "to deploy a tablet that will not pull IT controls and policies out of shape".

"The tablet market still equals iPad because there is not another vendor that can compete, but there is plenty of room for other devices," he reckoned.

Given the recent profit warning from RIM, amid plans to slash its workforce and delay product launches, market acceptance of the PlayBook is vital to its future health. ®

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