PlayBook, the BlackBerry tablet computer, is now being offered for $299 and the price drop came the same week as the Amazon launched its own tablet, the $199 Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire even uses the same Playbook hardware and processor as a starting point, tomsguide.com said in a blog post. That's the kind of coincidence that leads to rampant speculation about why exactly Research In Motion, makers of PlayBook, lowered their prices. PlayBook sales had certainly been lagging in only the first year of production, but the timing of the Kindle Fire launch and the price drop seems too obvious.

Furthermore, RIM may stop making the PlayBook altogether, said chip analyst John Vinh of Collins Stewart. Barron's has more on that report here, but a RIM spokesperson denied it was true. Whatever's happening, it's not a good time for RIM who has also been laying off workers due to low sales. PlayBook even at $299 may not sell like RIM wants, so they may have to go all Hewlett-Packard and issue a fire sale like order to let the things go $99 per. It sure helped sales of the TouchPad in August when stocks depleted after eager shoppers snapped up thousands of the webOS powered tablets.

Whether RIM decides to stay in the tablet business or not could be pivotal because a recent survey by ad company InMobi said over half of BlackBerry owners polled said they would buy an iPhone 5 when it came out. Without the BlackBerry or the PlayBook, RIM would have to rewrite their mobile playbook indeed if they want to stay competitive.

Must Read: Kindle Fire May Force Android Tablet Makers to Cut Prices