TORONTO -- Research In Motion said it is delaying the launch of an upgraded operating system for its struggling PlayBook computer tablet until February 2012, yet another setback for a tarnished company struggling to compete with Apple.
David Smith, RIM's senior vice president, said in a post on the company's blog late Tuesday that the new version of the operating system isn't up to its standards at this point.
Smith also said the new version also won't have the popular messenging service BlackBerry Messenger when it's introduced in February.
The BlackBerry-maker had announced earlier this fall the updated operating system would be available in October with features that include the ability for BlackBerry users to automatically access their email, contacts and calendar on the PlayBook, a function it doesn't currently have. When RIM launched the PlayBook in April it said would add the features within 60 days, but later pushed that back to the summer and then to October.
The PlayBook received negative reviews because it didn't have those features.
"As much as we'd love to have it in your hands today, we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users," Smith wrote on the Inside BlackBerry Blog.
Shares of RIM fell nearly 6 percent on Wednesday to $21.02 in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.
The PlayBook is RIM's first effort to branch out from its smartphone base and capture a portion of the tablet computer market, but it has been a major disappointment. RIM said about 200,000 of them sold last quarter – far short of what analysts had expected. And that number paled in comparison to the top-selling iPad, of which Apple shipped 11.1 million units during its most recent quarter.
"They should stop pushing things out before they are ready. They don't have that many swings at the plate left," said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.
Gillis said RIM has consistently over-promised and under- delivered. He said they have management problems.
"You don't get right up to the final hour, and say, `You know what it's going to be a few more months,'" he said.
The Canadian company has had series of recent setbacks. A massive outage frustrated tens of millions of BlackBerry users earlier this month.
RIM has also delayed the launch of new phones with the company's new QNX operating system for several months. RIM disappointed many in October when they didn't announce a clear timeline for when they would release phones and tablets with the new software which is now called BBX. The update that RIM says it will provide for the tablet in February won't include the BBX software.
RIM continues to have success overseas but has increasingly lost market share in North America. Many U.S. users have moved on to phones with big touchscreens like the iPhone and various competing models that run Google's Android software.