updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
Best Buy, Carphone Warehouse go to upfront sales
Price cuts on BlackBerry PlayBooks deepened on Thursday. A Best Buy deal is now dropping the immediate price down of a 16GB model to $300 without any qualifiers. It had already been offering discounts before but had previously relied on a $100 credit or gift card to go any further than $100.
While broader cuts haven't reached the UK, Best Buy's UK partner Carphone Warehouse said it has started a more aggressive promotional plan of its own. Those who buy a BlackBerry phone on contract will get the PlayBook, normally the more expensive device, for free. Speaking to The Register, the store wouldn't say whether there would be unbundled discounts or how many PlayBooks had shipped.
Unofficially, resellers told the British site that sales were weak, with one harshly likening it to a "dog with fleas." A second also disputed the "professional-grade" element that RIM has touted the most and said it was "not fit for purpose in the enterprise space," noting that it had to be tethered to a BlackBerry just to get native e-mail.
RIM has promised a major PlayBook 2.0 update that will solve many of its outstanding criticisms. It has also promised its own official discounts rather than just giving permission to third-party chains. Until then, however, the company has had to gradually acknowledge a wide gap between its original hopes and reality. It shipped just 200,000 PlayBooks in the summer, less than half what it did during the spring launch quarter.
The production is believed low enough in the future that Quanta eventually confirmed a rumor it had laid off factory workers at a PlayBook-oriented factory due to greatly reduced production queues. By contrast, Apple this spring shipped and sold 200,000 iPads roughly every two days.