Despite Poor Reviews, BlackBerry PlayBook Sales OK

A series of less-than-spectacular reviews of Research In Motions BlackBerry Playbook made most so-called experts predict that sales would be poor on the tablets first day on the market. Not so, say at least two analysts who took a look at both pre-orders and in-store sales.

Two reports say RIM might have sold 45,000, or even 50,000 of the new Wi-Fi computers on April 19, when the PlayBook went on sale both online and in retail outlets everywhere. Those numbers would beat both analysts expectations.

RBC Capital Markets called 70 different stores Tuesday and found various results from being sold out at some locations to light sales in others. The analysts check of Best Buy inventory showed the 32GB and 64GB models to be especially hot, with approximately nine out of every 10 stores sold out of those versions. RBCs Mike Abramsky noted that the PlayBook might have beaten sales of Samsungs Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom on their respective first-day releases, according to Boy Genius Report. RBC believes about 50,000 PlayBooks were sold Tuesday.

Almost as optimistic is Peter Misek of Jefferies, who believes 45,000 PlayBooks were sold on Day 1. Misek says you might not have seen long lines at your favorite Best Buy or other retail store, but pre-orders were strong, accounting for about half of all sales. Particularly popular were the 32GB and 64GB models, Misek said, lining up with what RBC estimated.

It could be a while, however, before anyone takes the tablet crown away from Apple. Some estimates put first-day sales of the iPad 2 last month at 500,000.

RIM is fighting falling smartphone sales, and is hoping that the PlayBook will give it a competitive position in the tablet space. Unlike some other tablets, the PlayBook is specifically targeted at business users as well as the general consumer so based on BlackBerrys reputation as good for business, it might be able to carve out a position for itself in the enterprise.

Most of the major U.S. wireless providers are expected to offer 3G/4G versions of the PlayBook later this year.

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