RIM recalls 1,000 of its new Playbook tablets

Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the Blackberry, suffered a new headache in its attempt to break into the tablet-computer market, announcing it had to recall 1,000 of its new Playbook tablets because of a software problem.

RIM began selling the Blackberry Playbook a month ago, in the hope of wooing buyers away from the Apple iPad, but technology critics and users gave a lukewarm response to the launch and suggested the device had been rushed out.

Technology bloggers discovered over the weekend that Staples, the American office-supplies retailer, had started pulling some of its Playbooks from the shelves.

RIM said: "Approximately 1,000 Blackberry Playbook tablets (16GB) were shipped with an operating-system build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up. The majority of the affected devices are still in the distribution channel and haven't reached customers. RIM is working to replace the affected devices."

The 7in, 16-gigabyte Playbook sells for $500 (£308) in the US. It is pitched by RIM as a multi-purpose device that could appeal to business users and consumers alike – "a social device, a party machine and the perfect companion for PowerPoint presentations," in the words of RIM co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis.

Reviewers, though, criticised the dearth of software applications available for the Playbook and some bigger omissions, including a dedicated email application, which suggested the company had launched the device before it was ready. The product recall was first reported by the blog Endgadget, citing an internal memo to staff at Staples. "The vendor has provided the serial numbers so that we can pull these off the floor and return immediately," the memo said.

RIM has been looking to new products, including consumer-focused Blackberrys, to help it stand up to competition from Apple's iPhone and new smartphones running Google's Android operating system. Disappointing product launches contributed to a warning last month that wiped 14 per cent from RIM's shares in a day.