RIM's plan to cut PlayBook prices next month to stimulate sales of the slate hasn't filled production partner Quanta with confidence: the company has axed 1,000 staff in its northern Taiwan plant. The Canadian company has drastically slashed its orders, according to DigiTimes' sources, after reporting just 200,000 unit shipments of the BlackBerry tablet in Q2.
Original estimates were for 4-5m sales of the PlayBook in 2011, but the tablet market proved far tougher to crack than RIM expected. After shipping 800,000 units in Q1, monthly shipments fell to 100,000 units claim the Taiwanese sources. That suggests RIM has a stockpile of around 100,000 units to work through.
Ironically, Quanta's PlayBook production line was a special request from RIM, which demanded that the ODM set up facilities in Taiwan rather than use its regular Chinese factories. The fear, sources suggest, was that Chinese white-box vendors would quickly copy the PlayBook design if it were produced in the country, something which now seems laughable.
Quanta has confirmed the layoffs - which, at around 1,000 staff, amounts to roughly half of the total workforce for PlayBook manufacture - but declined to comment on RIM's orders. RIM will attempt to re-stimulate interest in the tablet next month, with unspecified discounts and the release of v2 of the PlayBook's QNX OS. That will bring native email, calendar and contacts apps, among other things, and help reduce reliance on a BlackBerry smartphone.