Motorola, RIM Struggle To Sell Tablets - InformationWeek

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09:18 AM

Motorola, RIM Struggle To Sell Tablets

Motorola's latest quarterly numbers show it shipped a meager number of its Xoom tablet. RIM, on the other hand, stoops to a buy-two-get-one-free offer to spur PlayBook sales.

Motorola's Xoom, the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet to reach the market, is not a popular choice among tablet buyers. During its most recent quarter, Motorola shipped only 100,000 of the devices. It shipped about that same number last quarter. It would appear the Xoom isn't zooming anywhere, least of all into the homes of consumers.

The Xoom has been available since February. Motorola and Verizon Wireless only recently began upgrading the tablet from 3G-only to 3G/4G, which was first promised at CES early this year. Despite the addition of Long Term Evolution 4G to the Xoom, there's little interest in it. Motorola's full quarterly report is available here.

Research In Motion's PlayBook has actually fared better than the Xoom. To-date, RIM has shipped about 750,000 of them, though the company hasn't revealed how many it has actually sold to end users.

RIM's PlayBook has been heavily criticized for its lack of email, calendar, and contacts support--all features deemed mandatory by tablet buyers. The PlayBook can tether with a BlackBerry smartphone to get access to those features, but without a BlackBerry, they aren't available.

[Weeding though the 250,000+ apps in the Android Marketplace could take weeks, but our guide will give you a quick look at the ones you really need. Check out 10 Epic Android Apps.]

RIM held a sale for the PlayBook at the end of September. It knocked the $499 device down to $299 briefly when purchased through some select retailers. By the end of September, however, the price went back up to $499.

Now, RIM is offering business customers a buy-two-get-one-free deal. Enterprise customers who purchase two PlayBooks through official resellers will receive a third PlayBook for free. RIM is also offering some premium accessories to companies that buy two PlayBooks, including a leather sleeve or a six-foot HDMI cable. The promotion lasts until the end of the year.

Enticing though the offer may be, the PlayBook will not receive a PlayBook 2.0 OS until February of next year. That means it still won't be able to provide employees with access to email, contacts, and calendar without the help of a BlackBerry.

We don't have information on how some of the other big-name tablets are selling. Samsung has been mum about sales of the Galaxy Tab 8.9, 10.1, and 7.0 Plus tablets, other than to say they are selling well. The LG G-Slate appears to have vanished from the market entirely, and the HTC JetStream is too new to have good figures.

None of the tablets have been able to dethrone the Apple iPad, which remains king of the tablet hill for the time being.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2011 | 9:40:52 PM
re: Motorola, RIM Struggle To Sell Tablets
@qqqqqq Keep your shirt on. The way that the Playbook is being treated is no tougher than any other device. (I can't count the number of articles about Android's uncurated app store or iOS's lack of cut and paste, HDMI, Flash, a good camera, etc.)

If you're seeing a negative reaction it's largely because expectations were so high. Since RIM "owned" the enterprise as little as two years ago, the assumption was that enterprise users would jump to the Blackberry tablet when it arrived, making their CTOs very happy. IW and others covered the release with all due ceremony. Unfortunately things didn't turn out as hoped for and it's nobody's fault but RIM's. The initial release was buggy and it was missing core functionality. RIM was defensive about defects and evasive about their strategy/timeline for adding features. In the meantime they made misstep after misstep on other fronts, causing market share and mindshare to tank..

Not surprisingly folks stayed away in droves. Many went ahead with the iPad instead. Now that enterprises-even my very conservative one-are letting the iPad in and customizing apps for it, it's going to be ever harder for the Playbook to gain traction on its natural turf even if version 2 turns out to be a real winner.

So yes, Playbook sales are increasing and they've got a place at the table. That can surely be good enough if their profit margins are where they should be. It's just disappointing compared to what many of us expected and hoped for.

Journalists are reporting what they see; simple as that. Good that you're loyal to a once great company that still has time to turn it around. Instead of blaming the messenger; tell the company to replace its "co-CEO's" while there's still time.

Bottom line, what's happening here is nobody's fault but RIM's. Once they were unfashionably late they should have waited to deliver until the thing was debugged and they could articulate a real and credible timeline for completing the work on the missing features. Instead they released a buggy product and waffled on the lack of email, etc. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Add to that the fact RIM has been losing its luster lately. It's not surprising that users are cautious and the press is reporting what it sees.

Sure Playbook sales are growing slowly and if v. 2 of the OS is great it may solidify a place at the table. That's certainly good enough, especially if RIMs profit margins are where they should be. It's not necessary to rule the world. That's just not what we expected because for so long RIM did rule the world. And unfortunately with more and more enterprises-even my hyper-conservative company-letting the iPad in and customizing apps for it it's only going to get harder to dislodge it as time goes on. Not impossible, just harder.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2011 | 4:22:58 PM
re: Motorola, RIM Struggle To Sell Tablets
re: but without a BlackBerry, they aren't available.

Gee, I guess that rules out about, uhh, let me see... 0 out of 750k playbook owners. How will those 0 users survive?

Rim just introduced the playbook, its under a year old and its the second most popular tablet out there, you would never tell by the biased journalism rim receives. If any other company released an entirely new product line and created a new revenue stream they be praised by most objective people.

re: None of the tablets have been able to dethrone the Apple iPad

Who cares? These companies are still growing their sales (Rim had 0 last year). Is the author implying there is only room in the world for one tablet, sounds that way to me? Or is he suggesting growing your sales of tablets is a bad thing because you're not apple? Brilliant analysis.
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