Despite an early good start to its debut tablet, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Playbook may be reaching a point where sales are plateauing, if not tapering off. Predictions of the latest sales number come from Wedbush Securities analyst Scott Sutherland, who believes that sales figure for the tablet will be no more than 450,000 units in the spring quarter, ending this month.
In its debut, the PlayBook seems to fare better than Android 3.0’s Honeycomb debut, which was first released on the Motorola Xoom slate for Verizon. The PlayBook moved 250,000 units in the first month compared to the Xoom, which moved the same number in five weeks.
Sutherland believes that RIM would be able to move 2.3 million PlayBook units by the end of its fiscal year, which ends next February.
The analyst predicts that the PlayBook would outsell the Xoom, which has been criticized for a high $800 price tag at launch with Verizon for inclusion of 3G mobile broadband connectivity, upgradeable to 4G LTE in the summer, and a $600 version for a WiFi-only model. The PlayBook, in contrast, launches with WiFi-only and has a $500 base price for a 16 GB model. The tablet is available in 16, 32, or 64 GB, and a 4G WiMax version is headed to Sprint this summer.
Despite the fact that the PlayBook was launched with many more apps–RIM says in the thousands–than the Motorola Xoom debuted with on Android Honeycomb, the tablet is still being criticized by some for not delivering enough high-profile titles, like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Slingplayer, and Netflix apps. Additionally, my critique would be that despite the inclusion of a GPS radio even on the WiFi-only model, the PlayBook still doesn’t have a turn-by-turn GPS app with voice-guided instructions. The 7-inch screen would make the tablet a great car companion and is more portable than larger 10-inch slates, like the iPad and Xoom.