Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Best Buy Still “Happy” with PlayBook Sales, but Less Upbeat than a Month Ago

One of the few recent bright spots for Research In Motion was a statement from retailer Best Buy that very early sales of the PlayBook were far ahead of its forecast. However, on Friday, the retailer declined to reiterate its upbeat assessment, saying only there is an unspecified amount of continued demand for the tablet.

“While we cannot comment on specific sales numbers, we continue to see consumer demand for the BlackBerry PlayBook,” a Best Buy representative told All Things D on Friday. “This seems to be pretty typical of the excitement we’re seeing from our customers and employees around tablets in general.”

In a follow-up on Friday, Best Buy said that it remains “happy” with the pace of PlayBook sales, though it did not go into specifics.

Contrast that with what the company had to say less than a month ago.

“Best Buy has had great success selling BlackBerry smartphones in North America, so our sales expectations for the BlackBerry PlayBook were very high,” the company said on April 28. “To date, we have far exceeded those expectations and we’re finding that customers are even more interested in purchasing once they’ve tested the PlayBook in the store.”

Best Buy’s updated comments come as enthusiast site BGR reported that one unnamed “major retailer” has seen PlayBook sales that were 90 percent below expectations and also experienced a high return rate.

RIM said that the BGR report was inconsistent with what the company has heard from retailers.

“The source of the reported comment is anonymous and unknown to RIM, but the comment is certainly inconsistent with the positive feedback we have received from our main retail partners,” RIM said in a statement to All Things D. “As previously indicated, RIM will provide a business update on BlackBerry PlayBook results on June 16.”

The company has had a flurry of tough news in recent weeks, most notably the company’s own warning that this quarter’s sales will fall well short of expectations. In addition, the company has struggled to gain carrier support for the device, as well as being forced to recall around 1,000 of the tablets.

At the time of its earnings warning, RIM had said that PlayBook sales were in line with its expectations.