Some good news for RIM -- and yet another problem

Shares up more than 6 percent since Monday, but OS update hurting PlayBook battery life

It's been a rough few months for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), and there are real questions about whether the Canadian company can reverse its declining fortunes.

But there are true believers out there, and some of them have been buying enough shares of RIM to push the stock up more than 6 percent since Monday.

(Also see: RIM's bullish talk fails to sway Wall Street)

Through late-afternoon trading on Wednesday, RIM shares were at 45.26, or 6.2 percent above Monday's low price of 42.61.

RIM began the week dealing with the embarrassing news that it had to recall nearly 1,000 PlayBook tablets shipped to retailer Staples because of problems with the operating system that prevented some users from uploading software after the initial set-up.

Minor stuff compared to the generally negative reviews for the PlayBook and the company's recent disappointing sales forecast for its BlackBerry smartphone, not to mention its prolonged loss of market share to devices running Google's Android OS.

But as I wrote Monday, it's all of a piece, and RIM can ill-afford more bad news regarding its products.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what it's getting Wednesday with reports that a recent OS upgrade has shortened the battery life for some PlayBook users. CIO's Al Sacco reports:

Many PlayBook users, myself included, are experiencing notably decreased tablet-battery life after installing BlackBerry Tablet OS v, which was initially released during the first week of May at RIM's annual BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando. RIM released an advisory on the subject shortly thereafter, suggesting that PlayBook users who experience weakened battery life after the OS upgrade simply discharge their batteries completely and then fully recharge them again a few times--a process known as "cycling" a battery.

Sacco writes that he followed RIM's advice, "with no notable improvement in battery life." While he used to get 9 hours of battery life or more out of his PlayBook, the tablet's battery has been dying out in less than eight hours since the update.

Again, another minor issue, but over time numerous minor issues can add up to major problems. And RIM already has enough of those to deal with.

This strikes me as yet more evidence that the PlayBook was rushed out the door, essentially as a work in progress. It's hard to build (or retain) a customer base when you do that.

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