updated 02:15 am EST, Sun November 27, 2011
Best Buy sheds PlayBook as others follow
Best Buy raised questions on Thanksgiving weekend after it suddenly started cancelling Blackberry PlayBook orders. Shoppers have frequently reported orders being dropped, even if the order had already been charged and was virtually ready. Those on Best Buy's forums have mentioned the retailer being "overextended," while our own checks had one store say that "all" orders had been cancelled.
While we weren't supplied with a reason in our check, those on the forums report the chain being "overextended." However, it's not clear why the sales would have been dropped given that this was part of a longer RIM promotion lasting through at least the start of December, not a Black Friday or Thanksgiving weekend promo.
While it's potentially to discourage rain checks, the cancelled orders come just as Best Buy also appears to have pulled listings for the PlayBook itself, leaving only accessories. It also comes as stores like Staples and Office Max are showing unusually limited selections where one or two models are missing. How long they've been in this state isn't known.
The most probable explanation is a short term sales rush that has cleared out stock, repeating the same flood of customers that triggered HP TouchPad sellouts. Best Buy normally leaves products online if they're only temporarily sold out, however, raising questions of whether the chain plans to keep the PlayBook. Although the PlayBook is likely to stay, the withdrawals recall the situation that led to the death of webOS mobile devices, where Best Buy was stuck with unsold stock and threatened to make HP pay for TouchPads it couldn't sell.
RIM has had a difficult time persuading some to adopt the BlackBerry PlayBook regardless of discounts. It already slashed the price temporarily to $300, and it has been giving free units as bonuses under certain conditions. Most often, the hesitation has been pinned on the lack of native e-mail and other basics, which make it hard to pick over either a higher-end but complete tablet like the iPad or else the simpler, PlayBook-based Amazon Kindle Fire.