Quanta has shaved off about a thousand of its Taiwan workforce, likely because of dwindling BlackBerry PlayBook orders. The specifics of how many RIM tablets the manufacturing partner shipped in the first half of the year is undisclosed, but Fubon Securities analyst Arthur Liao says Quanta shipped 1.5 million, while a source told DigiTimes RIM in turn shipped less than 800,000 PlayBooks. At very least, we know from RIM’s conference call that they shipped 200,000 last quarter, which would be a sharp drop given those estimated first-half totals. Proper sales numbers haven’t been disclosed, but Liao estimates RIM has sold 700,000 PlayBooks to date, with most year-end estimates in the 2.5 million-range. DigiTimes’ own analyst speculates that RIM is still sitting on 800,000 units, which explains why RIM is planning to incentivize sales with mail-in rebates and the like. Despite reduced production, DigiTimes’ source says RIM hasn’t indicated any intention of pulling out of tablets altogether.
RIM has made big promises for the next version of the BlackBerry PlayBook operating system, which will include support for Android apps, stand-alone e-mail and productivity apps, and a new movie store. Hopefully the native SDK will go public soon, enabling rich game development and provide the PlayBook some extra marketability for the holidays. Either way, the PlayBook’s performance will act as a clear indicator of how well RIM’s upcoming QNX smartphones will do.
Anyone placing bets on how long it will take for RIM to phase out the PlayBook entirely? Should they keep pushing into the world of tablets, or just try to keep their phone business alive?