BlackBerry PlayBook in production, but will there be enough for the UK?

The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has hit the production lines in Taiwan, with 150,000-200,000 being made every month. But does that mean North America will be getting the lion's share?

Stuart Dredge
2 min read

BlackBerry PlayBook tablets are rolling off the production lines in Taiwan in advance of the device's launch in the first half of this year. But with speculation that fewer units may be available for the PlayBook's debut than previously announced, we're worried the UK may lose out.

Between 150,000 and 200,000 PlayBooks are currently being made every month by Research In Motion's Taiwanese partner Quanta, according to DigiTimes, citing its now-traditional "upstream component supplier" sources. It suggests that RIM's iPad rival could be ready to ship as early as February.

Last week's leaked North American BlackBerry roadmap indicates that prediction may be over-keen, since RIM had the PlayBook listed for a Q2 2011 launch. VentureBeat takes a more concerning angle on DigiTimes' news, however, doing the sums to suggest that at current run-rates, only 500,000 PlayBooks will be available for launch, rather than the previously announced 1 million.

If true, there could be a knock-on effect for us Brits, since the PlayBook is likely to make its debut in the US and RIM's native Canada before crossing the Atlantic. If stocks are more limited than expected, we could be looking at a UK launch for the PlayBook closer to the summer.

That said, the UK will still be high on RIM's priorities for rolling out its new tablet, as it seems demand for the BlackBerry brand remains strong here. RIM boasted this morning that Brits bought half a million BlackBerry smart phones in December alone -- a rate of 11 every minute -- making it the "top-selling smart phone handset in the market," despite stiff competition from iPhone and Android.

It's not made clear what's being compared to what, however: whether this is a specific BlackBerry handset that outsold the iPhone 4, for example, or using sales of all BlackBerries for the comparison. RIM's claims are based on data from market research firm GfK suggesting that 36 per cent of smart phones bought in December were BlackBerry devices.

With stats like that, we can only hope any limited initial run of PlayBook tablets doesn't leave us Brits ogling overseas -- or looking to get our tablet fix elsewhere.