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RIM gets desperate to move BlackBerry Playbooks

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Research In Motion (s rimm) has a bit of a problem on its hands. It’s got a bunch of PlayBook tablets sitting on shelves and little reason for people to buy them, especially now that some needed software improvements won’t come until next year. So stoking demand for the unloved tablet is getting harder, which explains why RIM is introducing a new “buy two, get one free” offer on PlayBooks through the rest of the year.

RIM is also throwing in an additional bonus for buyers, allowing them to get a free premium accessory for each tablet such as a leather sleeve, charging pad or HDMI cable. This follows is on top of discounts and rebates that it was helping underwrite for retailers who were struggling to move the tablets. After shipping 500,000 tablets in its first quarter of sales, RIM moved just 200,000 in the most recent quarter, with many sitting on shelves.

RIM might have been able to get people interested in the PlayBook if it had pushed out an update for the OS in time for the holidays. But the company acknowledged on Tuesday that the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 has been delayed until February to ensure that the update meets the expectations of developers and customers. So that means RIM still won’t be able to offer native email, calendar, contacts and BlackBerry Messenger on the PlayBook until at least then. Users will continue to have to rely on BlackBerry Bridge to connect email and BlackBerry Messenger.

With the software delay, I’m not sure a new discount will help move sales. It’s a lever to pull for RIM, but it just shows how desperate the company is to clear out some inventory. I don’t think customers are going to be inspired by this when the device is still crippled. The PlayBook has some features to like for end users, but this is being offered to enterprise customers who can afford to buy two devices at a time. And for those corporate customers, many have had plenty of time to decide whether or not PlayBooks are a smart investment, and I doubt this will change things.

RIM is going through a very difficult transition year, and yet it keeps hurting itself with its inability to execute, combined with some letdowns like a huge service outage. I’m anxious to see how the new BBX phones built on the QNX platforms perform, but with this increasing habit of missing deadlines, I’ll have to see those devices in the flesh before I start believing in their potential. I’d like to think that RIM still has a chance to stay competitive, but it can’t keep shooting itself in the foot. And offering desperate discounts won’t change things. They just make you look, well, desperate.

14 Responses to “RIM gets desperate to move BlackBerry Playbooks”

  1. Talderson

    I agree with Shekeese. This does seem more hype than substance. Moving a major software release a couple of months (when is it due? Feb?) is smart for they type of upgrade that this is supposed to be. Their mistake was letting the date out so early. Software is never done on time. Apple announces and releases once it’s ready not 6 to 8 months ahead of time. It’s silly.
    Offering a corporate discount isn’t such a bad thing. My issues with their tactics is that they don’t listen to the market. Most of the other 7 inch tablets are 300. Why they think this can sit up there with the iPad and Samsung 10.1 is crazy to me. The simple demand alone speaks of a price mismatch with consumers. I would probably get one today if it was priced right. I’m an android guy myself but once you can use the android market this looks really attractive as a device.

  2. Ok, so I am a BlackBerry fanboy and PlayBook still sucks – it is about as useless of a device as RIM could have released – no native 3G, no email, no calendar… Screen barely bigger than some of the Android phones out there. Who in their right mind would lug around a second device that is basically nothing more than a screen extension to your phone? I know I’m not going to, even if they handed them out for free (a free PlayBook would sit at home, for kids to play brickbreaker on).

  3. Jonathan

    They might have delayed PlayBook OS 2.0 for the right reasons. For one, they need to allocate as much human capital on the BBX phones and QNX/BES compatability. That’s wise. Also, what gets implemented on the BBX phones must be compatable with the PlayBook 2.0 OS. But you can’t ensure compatability until launch. Relaunching 2.0 and the BBX phones at the same time provides a cohesive branding package, media buzz and allows for optimal performance between the devices. This delay could have been the best decision made by RIM in a long time. I hope my assumptions are right and this delay is not simply the result of a lack of getting complex things done (and we see BBX phones some time in 2013).

    • Ryan Kim

      I agree RIM should get the next update right rather than just ship something. But it thought it could do that this year and now that’s not happening. It could all work out for RIM but this market is moving so quickly, it just puts more of an emphasis on executing on time.

  4. Shekeese

    Come on guys, this article is way off base. I’m not a RIM fanboy by any means, but at least post accurate info.

    I’ve seen this story on several tech sites, but I’ve never seen it so skewed. No one reported it was a desperate move, in fact I believe, from what I’ve read, that this is strictly for businesses and pushing the new enterprise updates.

    In addition, the Playbook discount deals ended a week ago, it was temporary. I know bc I tried to grab one this past week and they had all gone back to regular price. This BUSINESS ONLY deal is NOT in addition to the discounted deal.

    I know we all like to give RIM a hardtime, but this time you guys are simply making stuff up.

      • 1) Connects perfectly with my smartphone (BB Torch) and I like de UI, Gestures and Multitasking.
        2) Amazon is sacrificing profit for the sake of getting the tablet in as many hands as possible and sell services. – According to UBM TechInsights, a bill of materials for the PlayBook is $205. That’s just the materials and nothing else – no R&D, no marketing, no assembly. Given that the Kindle Fire is a cut-down PlayBook, it’s safe to assume that the bill of materials for the Fire is less than that of the PlayBook.-

    • How could it be anything BUT a desperation move? Playbook sales are in the toilet. This is an attempt to flush down remaining inventory instead of burying it in a landfill.

      You say you’re not a RIM fanboy “by any means”, but I take it you are a BB user. Why would you want to buy a Playbook if not? I don’t think anyone is out to give RIM an undeserved hard time. It’s more like watching a train wreck, or a two headed chicken get decapitated.