BlackBerry PlayBook Flopped Hard, Says Retail Source

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Someone in retail’s not happy about Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook.

An anonymous source, reportedly from a “major big box retailer,” told Boy Genius Report that RIM’s tablet missed sales targets by more than 90 percent. The source also said that return rates were much higher than those of the Motorola Xoom, which itself was marred by higher-than-average return rates.

RIM, of course, disputes the claim, saying that it’s inconsistent with feedback from its main retail partners. The company also provided a statement from Best Buy, which suggested that the tablet is doing better than expected. “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,” the Best Buy statement said.

RIM also said that it’ll have more sales information to share on June 16.

I’m rooting for the PlayBook, even though I returned mine after about a week. The tablet is buggy and has hardly any worthwhile apps, but the interface is clever — it uses finger swipes to move between open apps and menus — and the 7-inch size is great for reading and gaming. I haven’t ruled out re-purchasing the tablet, but only if the app situation improves. That depends entirely on developer interest, which in turn relies on people buying the tablet and creating a market for apps.

As for BGR’s report, it comes from a single big box retailer, but it’s not clear whether that retailer is in the United States or elsewhere. In the United States, the PlayBook is sold by Best Buy, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Radio Shack and Staples.

I hope RIM can pacify developers with good sales figures in June so the platform can grow. Otherwise, 7-inch tablet seekers will have to take comfort in Android’s open arms. (Get it? Open? Sigh.)

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