We're seeing a bit of what's inside Research in Motion's Playbook playbook, as the company has ordered a million units to be produced from its overseas manufacturing partners. Quanta Computer in Taiwan is ready to put a million of the tablets on the production line, which are all set to ship by the end of March.
The initial units will only have Wi-Fi connectivity, since RIM is setting its mobile data sights for the device exclusively on 4G. It's working with Sprint to make a version compatible with its high-speed network.
It's going to be a very important product for RIM. The company has been literally bleeding out subscribers. Even though it still remains the #1 smartphone platform in the US, that lead is diminishing very quickly.
The Playbook is seen by many as the company's last chance to stay on top before it's completely gobbled up by Android or the iPhone, but it has a lot of competition. In addition to the iPad which is its direct competitor, Samsung's Galaxy Tab is making waves, and Motorola's Xoom tablet - which will also be 4G-capable - is catching a lot of attention.
RIM's last move to compete against the new mobile giants was a huge failure. The Blackberry Torch, the first to include RIM's brand new Blackberry operating system, was seen as nothing more than a minor incremental upgrade to the increasingly-dated Blackberry software. For Playbook, it's a completely new, from-the-ground-up operating system.
If it does manage to sell a million units by the end of March, it has a shot. But that might be a long shot.