A Sign of the Times? BlackBerry PlayBook Gets Price Cut
Big-box retailer Best Buy has cut the prices of the BlackBerry Playbook, up to $150 for some models. Is this a sign of the times for BlackBerry maker RIM, and more importantly, can RIM really compete in the mobile marketplace anymore? Perspective you can only get here, coming up …
For VARs who were holding out on buying a PlayBook, your chance to nab one has never been better. Best Buy has dropped the price of the 64GB Playbook to $549, an entire $150! Both the 32GB and 16GB PlayBooks have also been cut, by $50 ($549 and $449, respectively) which means a 64GB PlayBook costs the same as a 32GB PlayBook. Clearly, this isn’t like HP’s liquidation strategy, but it’s definitely Best Buy’s efforts to spur stale inventory and hopefully, for RIM, gain some adoption and proliferation. But is it too little too late?
I enjoyed using the BlackBerry PlayBook in the past, but I’ve also been critical of RIM’s mobile strategy as of late. I recommended the company drop all its existing BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry-line products and immediately start focusing on something new, disruptive and innovative to stay afloat, even losing the BlackBerry name. However, RIM has released the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and a version of the BlackBerry Torch without a keyboard, running BlackBerry OS 7. These products aren’t bad — they’ve received positive reviews from many who love RIM. But RIM is not out there competing where it needs to, which is in the market with high-end Android, iOS and Windows Mobile products.
RIM’s greatest achievement over the last year has been the purchase and development of QNX, and frankly, the fact that RIM has continued to push out BlackBerry OS phones instead of leading with QNX phones is distressing. RIM rumors suggest the first QNX phone will hit the shelves in Q1 of 2012, which means it will go up against the Q4 onslaught of Android phones and the iPhone 5. RIM better be doing something especially amazing.
It’s been alleged that like the PlayBook before it, the QNX-based phones will run Android applications. This could go two ways; either people love the new QNX phone, and masses flock to the “convenience of a BlackBerry with the apps of Android” or, due to Android app support, native support for the QNX phone will essentially stagnate and fail. It could be why the PlayBook has not officially received an update to run the Android apps. RIM is likely wary of its effect on the market.
It’s do or die time for RIM, and if the QNX phones of the future don’t provide something truly unique in the crowded marketplace, RIM may have to downsize more than it already has to stay afloat until it can innovate, or wait until someone buys the company for its patents. RIM’s Q2 2011 results are slated to be announced Sept. 15, 2011, so we’ll be sure to cover the ups and downs for the once ubiquitous smartphone maker.