After voluminous coverage of Research In Motion’s struggle with stockpiles of BlackBerry PlayBooks, the smartphone and tablet manufacturer has a plan; sell all the versions for one price, $299.
RIM has reportedly hundreds of thousands of PlayBooks that it can’t sell. Retail supply chains are full, and units are moving slowly. Retailer Best Buy has even cancelled additional orders for the device. Clearly, it’s a tough time to be a PlayBook.
The reasons surrounding the PlayBook’s struggle are numerous, but clear. The device has yet to receive PlayBook OS 2.0, which will resolve most software complaints about the device. Namely, it lacks touted compatibility with Google’s Android platform, as well as lacking the full set of tools commonly found on a BlackBerry.
At launch, RIM stated that the PlayBook was intended to be a companion for BlackBerry devices, hence the lack of basic applications such as email. Initially that made sense to help PlayBook find its niche, the manufacturer touted free tethering between BlackBerry and tablet, which would provide competitive advantage over Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android. Both of which lack the ability for their smartphones and tablets to share a connection, without a tethering plan.
However, the attach rate for PlayBook stalled when carriers threatened to reject the devices. RIM caved, and agreed to implement tethering plan checks on the BlackBerry PlayBook’s Bluetooth link. Almost instantly, RIM’s coveted feature became its scourge, the PlayBook then made no sense to own as a Wi-Fi tablet. RIM lost its foothold niche that would help accelerate it, while still developing the key apps needed, such as email.
PlayBook OS 2.0 also will start RIM’s transition to BlackBerry 10. RIM has stated clearly it is using PlayBook’s OS, based on its acquisition from QNX, to deliver BlackBerry OS 10 for smartphones. The company has struggled there, too. It has already delayed the platform to late this year, and even had to drop the more-attractive name of BBX, due to a trademark dispute.
At $299, RIM is hoping to sell off the tablets it is having the most trouble selling; the 64 GB and 32 GB models. However, it’s a tough sale to ask consumers to purchase a device on future features. It could expose further weakness in RIM, if the 64 GB model hangs around too long being priced the same as its 32 GB and 16 GB counterparts.
Regardless, RIM has said the sale will end February 4. It remains to be seen if RIM will “sell out” of 64 GB units by that date.