I've said on several occassions now that I peg the active BlackBerry PlayBook user base to be somewhere at or around the 200,000 mark (based on CrackBerry intuition from all the metrics I'm privy to running a site like this). So with RIM stating on their last earnings call that they've shipped a total of 700,000 units to date, that means there are a lot of PlayBooks still sitting in inventory channels.
But beyond what hasn't sold to customers that's already in distribution, news coming from industry sources has RIM's unsold BlackBerry PlayBook inventory pile looking even larger. An analyst from Fubon Securities reported that RIM's supplier, Quanta Computer, had shipped some 1.5 million PlayBooks to RIM in the first half of the year. Furthermore, Quanta confirmed to Digitimes that layoffs had occurred at one of their plants. While Quanta wouldnt discuss the exact numbers or clients, the word is 1,000 layoffs occurred (roughly a third of the people) at the Northern Taiwan facility where PlayBooks are manufactured.
Last week I wrote an essay here on the fate of the BlackBerry PlayBook. If you haven't checked it out yet, it's worth a read. We know RIM will role out a BIG BANG version 2 software update to the PlayBook, which should help breathe new life into the demand for RIM's first PlayBook. But at the same time, with that much inventory it's going to take some deep price cuts for RIM to get the inventory moving and turn some of those PlayBooks into cash, which the company needs. The BlackBerry PlayBook really is a great piece of tablet hardware, and with Tablet OS 2.0 it'll be much improved on the software front, so as the prices drop I think we'll start to see PlayBooks move. Seriously, if the 16GB PlayBook dropped in price to $99 as we saw HP do with the TouchPad, I'd personally buy 20.