RIM selling PlayBook tablets for $300 each

The PlayBook got off to a promising start but sales have gone downhill since its first three months on the market.

Research In Motion has launched yet another sale on its PlayBook tablet, selling discounted versions of the device for $300.

The discount applies at RIM's online outlet and participating retailers, which include Wal-Mart, Radio Shack and Best Buy.

However, while $300 represents a substantial knockdown of list prices for the 32 GB ($599) and 64GB ($699) models, it represents a price increase for the 16GB models, which have been selling in some places for as low as $199.

Even at $300, a buyer may not find the PlayBook much of a bargain. It has little app support, no personal information manager or e-mail, and it only supports Wi-Fi.

Although the PlayBook had promising sales when it was introduced in 2011 -- it sold 500,000 units during its first three months on the market -- sales have been downhill ever since, despite promotions to stoke up those numbers.

Last September, for instance, Best Buy clipped $100 off every model in the line. And in October, RIM offered a two for one sale on the devices. Nothing worked, however, and in December, RIM wrote off the whole PlayBook experiment and took a charge on its books for its entire tablet inventory -- 970,000 units worth $485 million.

RIM isn't the only tablet maker trying to move inventory following the holidays. Sony, too, has pared the price of its Tablet S slate. The 16GB model ($500) is now selling for $400 and the 32GB model ($600) is $500. Those prices are $100 below comparable iPad tablets.

And unlike the PlayBook, Sony's Tablet S has received excellent reviews. "The Tablet S shows that the consumer electronics giant has not lost its design mojo over the years, as this model brings Sony's originality and flair to a tablet market that desperately needs both," wrote Melissa Perenson in PCWorld.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

This story, "RIM selling PlayBook tablets for $300 each" was originally published by PCWorld.

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