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The Blackberry PlayBook, photographed at Research In Motion's headquarters in Waterloo, Ont. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The Blackberry PlayBook, photographed at Research In Motion's headquarters in Waterloo, Ont. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Market Blog

Well, hello BlackBerry.... Add to ...

Well, there's always the BlackBerry.

Research In Motion Ltd. began selling its PlayBook tablet computers in stores on Tuesday morning. My local CBC radio station put a reporter in a Toronto store to get a sense of the consumer reaction - and found just one guy willing to take the plunge on the device when doors opened.

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The PlayBook has been receiving mixed reviews early on, which certainly make it stand out from the overwhelmingly positive round of cheers that greeted the second incarnation of Apple Inc.'s iPad earlier this year. Even Kris Thompson, an analyst at National Bank Financial who has an "outperform" recommendation on RIM, didn't hold back his criticism of the PlayBook.

"Overall, our initial experience was disappointing," he said in a note. "Gmail did not work well at all: our messages flickered and disappeared. Mapping is an important use case for smartphones and tablets. The PlayBook does not have a native map app (unlike iPad) other than Bing Maps, which is not very good, in our view." Etc.

Yet, Mr. Thompson remains upbeat on RIM, largely because of the BlackBerry. Part of his enthusiasm stems from the BlackBerry World Conference, which brings together users and app developers, and is used as a showcase for RIM to announce new products. In previous years, the two weeks preceding these conferences have driven RIM's share price up by an average of 9 per cent.

"This year, investors may see a similar stock reaction especially given the stock's trading multiple is at historical lows and the expectation of improved product roadmap disclosure this year to aid the company's image," Mr. Thompson said. He has a 12-month price target of $80 (U.S) on the stock.

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