December 2, 2011
There are an awful lot of Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) PlayBooks sitting around. The BlackBerry maker has tried just about everything to get the tablets moving, but it seems buyers think it isn't worth it.
Let's recap recent events related to RIM's ill-fated slab.
- September: Retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) slashes $50 to $150 off the PlayBook price in an attempt to spur sales. A couple weeks later, RIM reported earnings and disclosed shipping only 200,000 units.
- October: RIM experiences its worst service outage in the company's history. The company unveils its new operating system, BBX, which will unify BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. PlayBook OS 2.0 is detailed and includes support for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android.
- November: Other retailers like Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS ) say they will take $300 off the asking price for Black Friday, bringing the 16 GB model down to $199, the same price point as Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Kindle Fire. Canadian retailers start offering that price by Nov. 18. A few days later, Research In Motion officially confirms the $199 pricing but says it will be for a "limited time."
- RIM launches a new promotion that offers the PlayBook for free to enterprise customers that upgrade to the newest version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 through Dec. 31.
- Best Buy announces it sells out of PlayBooks thanks to the Black Friday promotion and reminds us all of Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) $99 TouchPad sale. Further jogging our TouchPad nostalgia, RIM begins offering PlayBooks for $99 to employees, who are allowed to order up to eight units.
The company has now announced that it won't be meeting its previous guidance and is taking a big hit on those PlayBooks. In its press release, RIM says it "has a high level of BlackBerry PlayBook inventory" and that "an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers."
It will record a pre-tax noncash charge of roughly $485 million in the third quarter while RIM remains committed to the PlayBook and the tablet market. The previous diluted earnings-per-share guidance of $5.25 to $6 is now out of reach, as RIM no longer expects to hit that target.
It's no wonder that investors are sending shares down by roughly 10% today. Even though RIM occasionally does something right, continuing to commit itself to the PlayBook is a big mistake.
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