RIM Investigating Report of PlayBook ‘Jailbreak’ by Hackers

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) said it is investigating assertions that hackers have been able to “jailbreak” its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer and access unauthorized applications, and will fix the problem if true.

“RIM will develop and release a software update to minimize adverse impact to our customers,” the company, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said today in an e-mailed statement. The hackers have also said they will release a tool to jailbreak the PlayBook, according to RIM, and the company said it will investigate that if it happens.

The hackers’ claims, distributed in a YouTube.com video beginning Nov. 27, may deal a blow to RIM’s reputation for the security of its products at a critical time for the company. RIM is trying to repair its image after a four-day BlackBerry service outage internationally last month, and whip up enthusiasm for the PlayBook that has been missing since it debuted in April.

The 7-inch tablet was criticized for its lack of built-in e-mail, something RIM promised to remedy within weeks and now has postponed until February. The PlayBook has struggled against Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad, forcing RIM to cut shipments by more than half last quarter to 200,000 units.

To spur sales, RIM has reduced the price to $199, from $499, and offered the product free to some businesses.

RIM rose 2.8 percent to $17.86 at the close in New York. The stock has dropped 69 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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