Want a 64GB tablet for just $299? Wallet, meet solution — if you don’t mind the part where it’s called a BlackBerry PlayBook, that is.
Yep, RIM just dropped the official prices on its beleaguered tablet lineup, taking the normally $699 64GB PlayBook down to fire sale levels alongside the 16GB and 32GB models (on Amazon, the 64GB model still sells for $347). The 16GB model originally sold for $499 (currently $241.99 from Amazon, so a better deal there), while the 32GB model sold for $599 (currently $298.75 from Amazon, so a wash).
(MORE: $199 Blackberry Playbooks Are Back to Kill RIM’s Profits)
On your mark, get set…you’ve got until February 4 to buy one, says RIM, though I’d wager that’s just a marketing trick and you actually have as long as supplies last — does anyone see RIM raising the prices of these things before they clear inventory? Not while you can already buy them for roughly the same or less from online retailers.
Why wouldn’t RIM drop the 16GB and 32GB model prices further and in proportion? To clear off the high-end 64GB models, of course, while generating media sale buzz — once the 64GB models are gone, RIM probably hopes buyers will snap up the 16GB or 32GB models at the $299 price off sales momentum.
Wait, in other words, to grab a 16GB or 32GB model, if that’s what you’re eyeballing, and keep an eye on online retailers, who’ll probably drop their prices further to clear their own inventories before RIM does. In November and again in late December, retailers like Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy were selling the 16GB model for $199 (it’s back at $499 currently), prompting a sales rush, and with Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire selling in droves (Amazon claims a million a week in December alone) there’s no reason to think we aren’t headed for those price levels (or lower) again.
In any case, its a win-lose situation for RIM: They’re moving PlayBooks, sure, but reportedly taking a $360 million (after tax) write-down to unload these things.
MORE: No Surprise: RIM PlayBook Sales Plummet Along with Margins
Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham, Google+ or Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.