John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

First Day PlayBook Sales: Is 50,000 Too Big a Number?

The launch of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook earlier this week may not have been quite the spectacle for which the company had hoped, but first day sales appear to have been respectable, just the same.

Jeffries analyst Peter Misek figures RIM sold about 45,000 PlayBooks Tuesday, with pre-orders accounting for about 25,000 of the total. RBC* analyst Mike Abramsky’s first day sales estimate is in the same range, but a bit higher: 50,000, including pre-sales.

“The launch appears to have been stronger than the launch of Motorola’s Xoom Tablet, or the Samsung Galaxy Tab, although it’s too early to judge sustainability,” he said in a note to clients, adding that, as of Wednesday, checks of 180 stores across 10 cities in the United States and Canada show rising PlayBook stockouts.

But some analysts I’ve spoken with feel those estimates are overly bullish, given the device’s limited availability. 50,000 sold seems an awfully big number when even the Broadway Staples store in downtown New York City had just 10 PlayBooks on hand at launch and a clerk at the Bay Area Best Buy I called described inventory as “a handful.”

“Those 50K estimates are likely a bit high, although there was reasonable demand at stores that actually had product,” said one analyst who declined to be named. “It definitely seemed more of a beta launch to me. A lot of the distribution partners didn’t have the product in stock yet, and there has been essentially no advertising.”

*Barbara Stymiest, Chief Operating Officer at RBC Financial Group, sits on RIM’s board of directors. RBC also makes a market in RIMM securities.