The tagline in Research in Motion's recent ads for the PlayBook -- "Amateur hour is over" -- looks especially silly in light of reports today about the company recalling 1,000 of its tablets because of software problems.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a group of PlayBooks was shipped with defective operating systems that can't perform the initial set-up of the tablet. Oops.
The WSJ story followed a report Saturday by Engadget that said the faulty set of PlayBooks were sent to Staples Inc. RIM said in a statement that the affected devices are still in the distribution channel and haven't reached consumers. The company also said it's working to replace the malfunctioning units.
But the damage has already been done with publicity about the recall. This isn't the kind of news RIM needs when it's trying to catch up with the iPad and Android devices like the Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom in the tablet space. The PlayBook has already met with mixed or negative reviews and hardly set off a consumer frenzy in its first day on the market. RIM has indicated it's pleased with sales so far but hasn't disclosed any numbers yet.
Besides launching a cross-media campaign for the PlayBook, RIM earlier this month also made a burst of related announcements, including the unveiling of a Facebook application and video chat app for the PlayBook, and new software that lets people use its tablet and other devices more easily for both work and personal activities.
But the recall of some PlayBooks won't help RIM build any momentum it may have gained from its advertising, or the coup of the PlayBook getting a Facebook app before the iPad did. The company will have to insure the operating system glitch doesn't surface beyond this particular batch of PlayBooks -- and cement the perception that amateur hour has not just begun with the rollout of the RIM tablet.