Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) said it will recall around 1,000 units of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet due to a software issue, the latest headache to befall the company and its tablet product.
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In a statement provided to multiple news outlets, RIM said that around 1,000 units of the 16 GB version "were shipped with an OS build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up." The company said the majority of the affected devices are still in the sales distribution channel and have not yet reached customers, and that it is working to replace the faulty units.
"In the small number of cases where a customer received a PlayBook that is unable to properly load software upon initial set-up, they can contact RIM for assistance," RIM said.
The snafu is the latest setback for the tablet, which was criticized by many reviewers when it debuted last month. Wireless carriers also have given lukewarm support to the product. "Usually product recalls don't make it into the headlines when it's less than about 100,000 devices," Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at MKM Partners, told Bloomberg. "It shows that people are using a magnifying glass when looking at RIM."
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has defended the PlayBook, which runs QNX software, from critics who have pointed out the device currently doesn't offer a native email client. Speaking earlier this month at RIM's Capital Markets Day, Lazaridis countered that IT managers had demanded the BlackBerry Bridge feature, which pairs a BlackBerry smartphone with the tablet via Bluetooth, so that if the PlayBook were lost, corporate email would not be compromised. However, he noted that a native client will be added to the device in an upgrade.
RIM is currently selling a Wi-Fi-only version of the PlayBook tablet through AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) for a base price of $499. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) also is expected to support a Wi-Fi version of the device as well as a WiMAX version later this summer, but it has not given dates for the launch. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has remained noncommittal about when or if it will launch the PlayBook.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Engadget post
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