BlackBerry PlayBook price, come on down, you’re the next—or actually, first—contestant on The Price Wasn’t Right, But We’ll Fix That, in view of the Android-based Kindle Fire, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled Wednesday for just $199.
RIM’s PlayBook had been going for between $299 and $499, depending on model, but retailer Best Buy just slashed the price on all three models (16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB) by $200 each. If that sounds like a desperate, reactionary move to you, you wouldn’t be alone: Analysts are saying as much in the Kindle Fire’s wake left and right.
“We believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market,” said Collins Stewart tech analyst John Vinh (via Barron’s), noting that PlayBook manufacturer Quanta has let go of a “significant number” of employees.
According to Vinh:
While Quanta last week acknowledged that it had laid off a significant number of production workers from a factory focused on producing the PlayBook, our research indicates that the ODM has essentially halted production of the tablet. Additionally, our due diligence indicates that RIMM has canceled development of additional tablet projects.
And DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim adds fuel to that fire, claiming DisplaySearch’s supply chain research “indicates they [Quanta] don’t have production plans for PlayBooks beyond this year.”
But don’t tell RIM. The company quickly shrugged off Vinh’s take, calling it “pure fiction,” and stating that RIM “remains highly committed to the tablet market.”
Some in the media are claiming Staples and Office Depot have also dropped the PlayBook’s price, though a quick scan of Staples’ website shows the cheapest model (16GB) still selling for $499. Office Depot’s site shows the PlayBook discounted across all models, but by $100 each instead of Best Buy’s $200.
Given the disparity in retailer PlayBook discounting (and analyst supply chain speculation notwithstanding), it’s possible we’re looking at a one-off product dump. Best Buy’s probably hoping to offload its PlayBook inventory for its own reasons, some of which no doubt include anticipatory sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, but it’s too soon to write RIM off altogether, whether a chain like Best Buy has or not.
[Update: Richard Shim reached out to clarify that he’s with DisplaySearch, not NPD Group (corrected above) and notes that the “they” he’s referring to above isn’t RIM, but rather RIM’s manufacturing partner, Quanta.]