The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK (

Trefis

) --

Research in Motion

's

(RIMM)

new PlayBook tablet represents nearly 7% of the company's stock value by our estimates.

In order for this value to be realized, the product needs to elbow its way into an increasingly competitive tablet market. So far it's off to a shaky start since its April 19 launch.

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weren't yet carrying it in stores as of Thursday and

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is still debating whether to distribute the device. Early indications of sales figures were soft.

We currently forecast that RIM will sell 4 million PlayBook units in 2011, and will grow sales a little over 2% annually towards 12.5 million by the end of our forecast period. However, our projections could prove optimistic given its early struggles.

We're not suggesting that the end of the PlayBook is near, as this might only be a short-term hiccup. Still, if the product fails to gain adoption in 2011, consumers might develop loyalty to competitors' offerings, a scenario that would create a headwind to PlayBook sales in the years ahead.

You can drag the trend line in the modifiable chart above to see how a more cautious outlook for PlayBook unit sales could affect RIM's stock value. A slowdown in PlayBook tablet sales has limited impact on RIM's stock value, given that this product segment represents less than 7% of our $68 price estimate. Our price estimate stands roughly 30% ahead of market price.

The PlayBook doesn't offer cellular service, but it can connect to Wi-Fi networks. A 4G version is expected to launch this summer.

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