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RIM slashes PlayBook prices amid rumours of board shakeup


The BlackBerry PlayBook. Photo: AP

The BlackBerry PlayBook. Photo: AP

The BlackBerry PlayBook. Photo: AP

RIM, the firm behind the BlackBerry brand, has slashed the price of the PlayBook, its poorly-received iPad rival, to just $299 in the United States.

All three PlayBook models - 16GB, 32GB and 64GB - are now available for the same price on the BlackBerry online store.

The latest discount means the 64GB model costs less than half the $699 price RIM asked at launch in April. A fire sale has been expected since RIM wrote down $485m on the value of its PlayBook inventory in December.

At the time the firm's joint chairman, Mike Laziridis, backed the device despite its disappointing sales.

"We believe the PlayBook, which will be further enhanced with the upcoming PlayBook OS 2.0 software, is a compelling tablet for consumers that also offers unique security and manageability features for the enterprise," he said.

The new software, which will finally allow the PlayBook to receive email without being linked to a BlackBerry smartphone, has been delayed until February.

British prices for the PlayBook have not been dropped since October, standing at £249, £329 and £409 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models respectively.

As the American discounts were announced, RIM shares, which slumped more than 75 per cent in 2011, enjoyed a surge on the stock market, but not because of renewed hopes for the PlayBook. Investors were encouraged by reports in the firm's Canadian home territory that Mr Laziridis and his co-chairman Jim Balsillie could be ousted form the head of the board table.

With the power of the co-founders reduced, a sale of the struggling firm to a stronger smartphone competitor such as Microsoft or Amazon (expected to enter the fray in 2012) could come sooner.