RIM denies report that it will stop building BlackBerry PlayBooks

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) denied an analyst report that it will quit production of its Blackberry PlayBook tablet, underscoring the tumult surrounding the smartphone maker.

"RIM doesn't typically comment on rumors, but any suggestion that the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued is pure fiction," the company said in a statement. "RIM remains highly committed to the tablet market."

The forceful denial came after a report by a Collins Stewart analyst that said RIM may have halted PlayBook production and canceled additional tablet plans. "We believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market," Collins Stewart semiconductor analyst John Vihn wrote in a note.

RIM said earlier this month that it shipped approximately 200,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in its second quarter, down from 500,000 in the last few weeks of the first quarter. In the wake of the earnings report, numerous retailers, including Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples, began cutting their retail prices for the PlayBook, which has still not launched with U.S. carrier support. RIM has said a major software upgrade for the PlayBook, due in October, should help boost sales. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that the marketing messages for the PlayBook were muddled from the start, as executives differed over how much to market the product to consumers compared to enterprise users.

Meanwhile, there are more reports of executive departures from RIM. RIM confirmed to FierceWireless that Tyler Lessard, the company's senior vice president for global alliances and developer relations, "is moving on to pursue other interests." He will be replaced by Alec Saunders, who will serve as vice president of developer relations and ecosystem development. According to Reuters, Jeff McDowell, senior vice president for platform marketing and alliances, left the company two months ago. Both departures were first reported by Crackberry.com. A RIM spokeswoman declined to comment on McDowell.

The departures are the latest in a string of executive exits this year at RIM. Mike Kirkup, a director of developer relations, left RIM in August. Keith Pardy, RIM's head of marketing, left in March, just ahead of the PlayBook launch. Additionally, Don Morrison, one of RIM's COOs, resigned in July after taking a medical leave.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate Reuters article

Related Articles:
RIM's U.S. sales plunged by 50% in Q2
RIM's Lessard dishes on the PlayBook, the enterprise market and QNX
BlackBerry posts drooping revenues, ships just 200,000 PlayBooks
NPD: Android dominates 52% of U.S. smartphone sales in Q2
Report: RIM's QNX smartphones also will run Android apps
RIM unveils new BlackBerry Bold, Torch models
RIM slashes 2,000 jobs, says COO to retire

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