RIM has just come out with a sobering statement ahead of its December 15th earnings report to tell the world that it'll be "recording a pre-tax provision" of $485 million in relation to unsold inventory of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. In simpler terms, that means the company is wiping nearly half a billion dollars off the value of its inventory, simply because it doesn't believe it can recoup it in sales. RIM reiterates that it has "a high level" of unsold PlayBooks in its warehouses and that it intends to continue an aggressive promotional push to get them out and returning at least some sort of revenue.
150,000 PlayBooks were shipped to retailers in the third quarter, but RIM has seen very positive feedback to the deep discounts it has been pushing and claims that the number of sales to consumers during that period is higher still. Though these numbers are relatively small and the writeoff announced today is undeniably big, RIM has chosen to look on the bright side and intends to treat the discounted sell-off of the PlayBook as a constructive exercise that gives the PlayBook OS a wider audience and firmer foothold.
There's no sign of panic within the company and we're assured that "RIM is committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook and believes the tablet market is still in its infancy." In other words, there'll be no HP TouchPad fate for the PlayBook, RIM is in for the long haul with its QNX-based OS and interrelated smartphone and tablet strategy.
Another item on the red side of RIM's Q3 balance sheet is a $50 million charge that has arisen from the outage the company suffered to BlackBerry services. Still, if you need to be cheered up, at least BlackBerry smartphone shipments are keeping up with estimates, at 14.1 million for the three-month period ending on November 26th, though RIM also forecasts that its numbers in the fourth quarter will be lower than in the one just finished.