RIM recalls 1,000 PlayBook tablet computers

By RACHEL METZ | May 16, 2011 | 3:28 PM EDT

FILE - This product image provided by Research In Motion, shows the new Playbook. BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion Ltd. said Monday, May 16, 2011, it recalled about 1,000 of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computers due to defective operating software that can make it impossible for users to set up the device.(AP Photo/Research In Motion, file)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion Ltd. has recalled about 1,000 of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computers due to defective operating software that can make it impossible for users to set up the device.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based gadget maker said in a statement Monday that it learned that the affected tablets were shipped with software "that may result in the devices unable to properly load software upon initial set-up." Only PlayBooks with 16 gigabytes of memory were affected, RIM said, and the majority of them had not yet been sold to customers.

RIM said it is working to replace the affected tablets. Customers that did end up with one that can't load the software correctly during setup can contact the company for help, RIM said.

The issue was reported on Saturday by tech blog Engadget, which said the affected PlayBooks had been shipped to Staples Inc. stores. RIM did not comment on whether or not this was the case, and a Staples spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

The PlayBook — which costs $499-$699, depending on the amount of built-in storage space — received mixed reviews when it was released in April. The device marks RIM's first effort to branch out from its smartphone base and capture a portion of the tablet computer market. Apple Inc. popularized the tablet when it released its first iPad last year, and the device — which was recently upgraded — has dominated that market ever since.

The recall is RIM's most recent bit of bad news. The gadget maker slashed its fiscal first-quarter forecast last month, saying it is selling fewer and cheaper smartphones than it anticipated. The company's previous prediction for the quarter had already been below analyst expectations.

Though RIM's BlackBerry smartphones are known for their security and reliability as email devices, they haven't kept up with iPhones or phones that use Google Inc.'s Android software when it comes to running third-party applications.

Shares of Research In Motion fell 25 cents to $42.99 in afternoon trading.