Labor Day Sale: Struggling RIM Playbook Price Dropped at Best Buy

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A customer holds a Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet computer in Fairfax
A customer holds a Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet computer in Fairfax, Virginia, April 19, 2011.

Research in Motion can expect to get a boost in unit-sales of its struggling Playbook Tablet this weekend as major U.S. retailer Best Buy is slashing prices on the devices in its stores across the country.

The entry-level models of the Playbook Tablet, with capacities of 16GB and 32GB will be dropped by $50 to $449 and $549 respectively. The flagship 64GB Playbook will be dropped by $150 to $549, down over 20 percent from its normal retail price of $700

The tablet marks RIM's first foray into the tablet market and a departure from the smartphone market that it is accustomed to dominating. But its fortunes are changing.

The company fell from its heights to become ranked fourth for overall smartphone shipments in the second quarter behind Apple, Samsung and Nokia.

And its tablet attempt hasn't faired well either.

While the analysts predicts worldwide tablet computer market to 60 million units this year, up from 55 million previously, Apple  is expected to command almost 40 million units, or 66 percent of the market.

In contrast, the Blackberry maker cut its Playbook tablet shipment estimates to 2.5 million from 3.6 million for the entire year.

To add insult to injury, RIM was dealt a heavy blow last month when Sprint closed the door to the upcoming 4G powered Playbok.  The nation's third largest mobile provider said there wasn't much interest from potential business clients.

At the time RIM defended itself, saying the change was not a loss, but reflects a change in direction.

RIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE, it said.

Verizon and AT&T are not supporting the device at this time.

But the sale might help improve RIM's PlayBook sales numbers a bit at a strategically important time, however.

Just recently, prices of HP's own tablet, the TouchPad, were drastically reduced, sparking unprecedented interest, and leading to sell-outs across brick-and-mortar and online retailers alike.

 

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