RIM Expands PlayBook Sales to Europe, Asia, Latin America

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) said it plans to start selling its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer in 16 new markets globally in the next 30 days after introducing it in North America in April.

The device will begin selling in countries including the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Australia, according to a statement from Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM today.

RIM is banking on a smoother rollout of the PlayBook internationally than it had in the U.S. and Canada to lure users away from Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s market-leading iPad. The PlayBook earned mixed reviews from technology columnists who suggested RIM rushed out the device and criticized its lack of a standalone e- mail program and network connectivity, as well as the shortage of consumer applications. Last month RIM recalled about 1,000 PlayBooks because of a software glitch.

Still, RIM may be on track to sell more of its tablets than some Apple rivals including Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.

RIM may have sold 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter which ended on May 28, above early sales of the Motorola Xoom, he said last month. Abramsky, based in Toronto, has a “sector perform” rating on the stock.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said this week it has sold more than 25 million iPads since the device went on sale in April 2010.

The other markets in which the PlayBook will soon be available are the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. RIM didn’t say what the price will be in the new markets.

A version with 16 gigabytes of storage costs $499 in the U.S., a 32-gigabyte model retails for $599 and a version with 64 gigabytes is $699.

RIM fell $1.05, or 2.8 percent, to $36.56 on the Nasdaq Stock Market at 4 p.m. New York time. It has lost 37 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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