From tragedy to farce

Hmm. It's still a bit too early to judge, but our gut tells us the Blackberry Playbook's launch is careening towards 'catastrophe' status.

The Playbook is a super-important product for makers RIM, who have made a fortune out of the Blackberry line over the last year but whose sales have declined since the iPhone came along. And in many respects, the PlayBook is a great device: powerful and small, with a brand-new operating system and great multitasking. But RIM decided to ship it without built-in email and calendar functions, which was marketed as a security feature but which most reviewers dismissed as RIM releasing an unfinished product.

Then the CEO snapped at the BBC's tech reporter, increasing the sense that the pressure was getting to him. And the PlayBook's launch was seen as pretty underwhelming.

And now? They've had to recall 900 of the damn things. RIM have sent out an announcement saying that around 900 of the first PlayBooks to go on sale have dodgy software that could cause the whole thing to break during a routine software update. So they're asking users with the relevant serial numbers to send their tablets back for fixing.

Now, in fairness, RIM say the majority of the affected tablets haven't reached customers yet, but are 'in the distribution channel' (code for 'sitting in a warehouse till someone orders them'). So it may just be a handful of users who are actually affected. And this is only an issue in the US, simply because the PlayBook hasn't launched anywhere else yet. Still, this will increase the generalised sense that the PlayBook launch is jinxed. Maybe the European launch will go better?

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