According to a report filed by Reuters, analysts from firm Collin Stewart have stated that RIM is preparing to exit the tablet sector and has taken steps to discontinue the current PlayBook as well as further tablet projects on an internal level.
â€œWe believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market. Additionally, our due diligence indicates that RIM has canceled development of additional tablet projects.â€
This latest round of speculation follows price cuts at retailers this week as well as offerings at overstock deal portals whereby the 16GB version of the much maligned tablet is being offered for as low as $299.99 with no real sign that retailers are moving stock in any significant volume. The PlayBook has been maligned Â since the first concrete details of the device surfaced last year, as the device is not a true stand alone tablet in the vein of an Android tablet or iPad, requiring a BlackBerry to function as a bridge to get the most functionality out of it, such as email access and data sync.
Developer support for the PlayBook is also another sore point for the Canadian company, as developers continually become frustrated with the lack of updated tools and access to better APIs necessary in order to get the most out of the hardware to develop applications. The tablet is also criticized for lacking a built-in email client amongst other applications considered necessary for proper standalone operation. As it stands, RIM has also yet to release long-promised updates to the tablet that would enable it to use Android FroYo applications via emulator as well as further developer updates to deploy native development tools besides the current Flash/Flex/AIR toolset, both of which were expected this month.
RIM has responded to the report with the following statement:
“Rumors suggesting that the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued are pure fiction,” RIM spokeswoman Marisa Conway said in an emailed statement. “RIM remains highly committed to the tablet market and the future of QNX in its platform”
The report also stated that the manufacturing plant in China run by ODM Quanta responsible for the PlayBook has had job cuts in the last few days as a result of the poor sales of the tablet, further suggesting that the statement was meant to head off any investor concern about short-term performance.
As RIM has struggled with marketshare loss due to the rise of Android and the iPhone, the manufacturer and platform developer is looking to QNX to save its business from irrelevance, though it remains to be seen whether it can hold on until the planned launch of QNX phones early next year.