RIM’s PlayBook Tablet Has Poor Battery Life, Kaufman’s Wu Says

Research In Motion Ltd. may need to re-engineer its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer, due next year, to improve its battery life, according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu.

Developers who are designing applications for the PlayBook said the device has a battery life of two to four hours, compared with as long as 10 hours for Apple Inc.’s iPad, Wu said today in an interview.

RIM, whose BlackBerry smartphones are losing market share to Apple’s iPhone, is developing the PlayBook to bring in a new source of revenue and bolster growth. Wu estimated RIM will ship 700,000 PlayBooks next year. Other analysts project shipments ranging between 1 million and 8 million units.

“One possibility we are hearing is the likelihood of a larger battery which could add to the heft and weight of PlayBook,” Wu, who is based in San Francisco, wrote today in a note to clients. “We are not convinced that tablets outside of the iPad will see high-volume success.”

A voice-mail message left at Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion wasn’t immediately returned.

RIM fell 45 cents to $58.02 today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares, down 14 percent this year, have jumped 35 percent since the end of August, a few weeks before the company unveiled the planned tablet.

Wu maintained his “hold” rating on RIM shares, saying that while he believes the company’s valuation is depressed, “the competitive overhang is unlikely to go away in the near term.”

RIM said on a Dec. 16 conference call it plans to release the PlayBook in the first calendar quarter of the year.

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