Tablet 'amateur hour' not yet over -- for RIM

BlackBerry maker forced to recall 1,000 PlayBooks with defective operating systems

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In the annals of misguided marketing campaigns, Research in Motion's "Amateur Hour is Over" slogan used to launch the company's PlayBook tablet -- and denigrate Apple's groundbreaking iPad -- will go down as one of the most comically egregious.

(Also see: RIP, RIM?)

But it's not likely anyone at RIM is laughing these days. On top of the PlayBook's generally negative reviews, RIM's late entry into the tablet market and the fact that the damn thing was shipped unfinished, now it turns out that the embattled BlackBerry maker is recalling about 1,000 PlayBooks that have defective software.

Ars Technica reports:

RIM has decided to recall about a thousand of its PlayBook tablets thanks to a buggy operating system, the company has confirmed. The confirmation came after RIM had begun notifying its distribution partners about the faulty units, with the company noting that the majority of the recalled devices are still in distribution channels—not in customers' hands.

Engadget has an internal memo from Staples that states: "Approximately 900 units of the BlackBerry PlayBook have been determined to be faulty. The vendor has provided the serial numbers so that we can pull these off the floor and return immediately."

RIM also issued a statement to CrackBerry.com, assuring that this is an isolated problem. CrackBerry.com reports:

RIM determined that approximately one thousand BlackBerry PlayBook tablets (16 GB) were shipped with an OS build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up.

The majority of the affected devices are still in the distribution channel and haven't reached customers. RIM is working to replace the affected devices.

Compared to the other problems facing RIM -- all the PlayBook-related ones mentioned above, as well as the BlackBerry's steep decline in smartphone market share -- this does seem relatively minor.

But it's all of a piece, and these kinds of things solidify the growing perception that RIM is stumbling badly in the mobile OS market. How many potential PlayBook sales will RIM lose because of its continuing run of bad PR?

Of course, maybe RIM should go the other way with this and embrace the defects. It could even give HP a run for its money in this nascent market.

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