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BlackBerry PlayBook Upgrade Arrives A Year After Launch: A Timeline Of RIM's Struggles

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BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK UPGRADE
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Research In Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, released an update to its PlayBook tablet computer almost a year later than promised. Here are some developments related to its struggles to compete with Apple's iPhone and iPad and phones running Google's Android system:

Sept. 15, 2011: RIM reports a sharp drop in net income and revenue in the fiscal second quarter and says it has sold far fewer PlayBook tablet computers than it expected.

Oct. 10: Email and Internet services are disrupted for three days, primarily outside North America. RIM says a crucial link in its infrastructure had failed, and a backup didn't work either. By the third day, other users, including those in the U.S. and Canada, were affected by a backlog of traffic.

Oct. 25: RIM says it is delaying the launch of an upgraded operating system for the PlayBook until February, saying it isn't up to its standards yet. The company also says the new version initially won't have the popular messaging service BlackBerry Messenger. It's the third delay announced since the features were promised in April.

Dec. 1: RIM suspends two employees after their drunken rowdiness forced an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Beijing to be diverted to Vancouver. The two are later dismissed from the company.

Dec. 2: RIM says it is writing off much of its inventory of PlayBook tablets after it had to sell them at a deep discount. The model originally priced at $500 now costs $200. The company says it's taking a pre-tax charge of $485 million in the just-ended quarter. RIM also says it will sell fewer BlackBerrys in the holiday quarter than in the one that just ended. It also says it won't meet full-year earnings guidance of $5.25 to $6 per share, the third cut in a row.

Dec. 5: Police in Indonesia say a senior RIM executive is a suspect in a stampede at a BlackBerry promotion there in November. Police say several people fainted and dozens were injured at the global debut of the BlackBerry Bold 9790.

Dec. 6: RIM says "BlackBerry 10" will be the new name for its next-generation system after the company loses a trademark ruling on its previous name, BBX.

Dec. 15: RIM says new phones deemed critical to the company's future won't be out until late 2012. The company says the BlackBerry 10 phones will need a highly integrated chipset that won't be available until mid-2012, so the company can now expect the new phones to ship late in the year. The company also says BlackBerry sales will fall sharply in the holiday quarter compared with the three months that ended Nov. 26. RIM says it would only ship between 11 million and 12 million BlackBerrys in the fourth quarter, down from 14.1 million in the third quarter.

Jan. 22, 2012: RIM founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis announce they will step down as co-CEOs. Thorsten Heins, a chief operating officer who joined RIM four years ago from Siemens AG, was named as their replacement.

Tuesday: RIM finally releases an upgraded operating system for its PlayBook. The free upgrade allows for built-in email, calendar and contacts on the tablet — features promised within 60 days after the PlayBook's launch last April. The PlayBook had received negative reviews because it launched without an email program and the popular messaging service BlackBerry Messenger. The new version still doesn't include the messaging service.

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