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The PlayBook Joke Is on RIM

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Stop me if you've heard this one before. A struggling tablet with ambitious dreams of taking on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad walks into an online store and asks the shopkeeper for advice on how to jumpstart uninspiring sales.

Oh, so you have heard this one before. I guess we can just skip to the punchline: a massive price cut. Unfortunately, the company making the beleaguered gadget is the butt of the joke. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) should be used to it by now, anyway.

The BlackBerry maker is now selling all three PlayBook models for $299. That's right, the same price for the 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB models, which results in discounts of $200, $300, and $400, respectively. Last time, third-party retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) had a similar sale with the two upper-end models also at pricing parity, which was four short months ago. The discount back then maxed out at $150 when buying the 64 GB PlayBook for $550.

This must be what the company meant when it said that "an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers," even if the price points are nonsensical. The latest sale, which is available directly from RIM, goes for about another month, just in time for twice-delayed PlayBook OS 2.0. The software update will bring luxuries like native email and calendar apps along with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android support, assuming it isn't delayed again.

I'm still scratching my head on how RIM can justifiably call it a "truly uncompromised tablet experience."

Presumably, the sale will end and prices will jump back up to iPad-esque levels of $499, $599, and $699 right before the PlayBook is infused with basic features that virtually any tablet user takes for granted, which is nearly a full year after its debut and the iPad 3's arrival is likely imminent.

In the meantime, (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) already offers a device that looks identical (because of a shared third-party manufacturer), has a superior integrated content ecosystem along with said basic features, and is available for $199 before any discounts. Oh, and a Kindle Fire 2 may also be imminent.

Good luck trying to jack those prices back up, RIM. The handful of prospective PlayBook buyers already know they just have to wait a few months before you kick prices back down again, and one of these days they'll have to stay down for the count.

Research In Motion is on a crash course and has left the mobile party prematurely, which is a shame, because the mobile revolution is going to be huge. But just because RIM is missing out, that doesn't mean you have to. We've just released a brand-new, 100% free report that details one stock that is in an enviable position powering the mobile Trillion-Dollar Revolution from the inside, while also having exposure to China's red-hot growth. I like the stock so much I've given it an outperform CAPScall. Grab the report now to find out what company I'm talking about.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Google, Apple, and Best Buy. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of, Apple, and Google, writing covered calls in Best Buy, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2012, at 10:57 PM, hamstercheese wrote:

    So you would rather have all your communication monitored by governments? Governments run by fiat currency printers?? Look..I bought two playbooks as Xmas gifts and I'm going to buy one for myself, I am quite impressed with them. Even if they corrected all their problems and came out with products you would even consider superior to Apple you still would continue spreading your viruses and plague everywhere defaming them. Your genetic makeup in this arena is pretty easy to see. RIM is an underdog now getting stronger by the day. Watch out....

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2012, at 11:34 PM, minihunter97 wrote:

    I bought 3 playbooks at discounted prices and regret not buying more. Amazon offers a device that looks identical?? Are people blind? Kindle fire doesn't even have a video camera!

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 1:33 AM, Melaschasm wrote:

    The playbook marketing has been terrible, which should not be a huge surprise given RIMs struggles of late.

    RIM should have slashed the price before Black Friday. Currently they should make a permanent $200 per device price cut.

    The Playbook is a nice device but does not have the brand power to compete at the same price range as Apple. In the short run they can charge a small premium over the kindle fire because many people have fond memories of blackberry phones, but those days are numbered.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 6:05 AM, pbearl300 wrote:

    At a Staples Office Depot here in Canada last night, the 16s were 199, 32 for 249, and 64s for 299. AND there was a shopping cart FULL of returned.... 50 or 60 at least, at the returns counter.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 8:40 AM, dxtx wrote:

    Infothathelp says

    I spent 30 minutes trying out the Playbook at the BestBuy and frankly it was a waste of my time.

    Now what do you mean by that? You aren't smart enough to navigate the GUI ?

    I have a Playbook and I like it way more than the iPad. It is the perfect size. I use it to watch TV shows from their respective web sites, listen to ripped music from CDs, or from Slacker Radio, music videos from Vevo, play games like Angry Birds, or Machinarium.

    I get tired of people who say the Playbook is no good, when they really haven't even tried it out.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 8:46 AM, rascal669 wrote:

    I just don't understand why people hate playbook. I just bought one and it is great. I can access my emials through BB brdge, and there are apps for gamil and hotmail. They have good front and back cameras. The gadget is fast, sleek and has a perfect size. Can some one tell me why people don't like it for this price??

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 8:50 AM, dxtx wrote:

    rascal669, people basically just follow what other people do, that is why they buy iPads. They don't think for themselves.

    I forgot to mention I like using the video chat feature of the Playbook too.

    I repeat the size is great. I can put it on my countertop without it getting in the way. The iPad is way bigger and gets in the way.

    I admit the only thing I miss on the Playbook is an official Skype App.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 10:05 AM, advcomputer wrote:

    The Playbook is not for everyone. The iPlatform of products are for the clueless drones that have no idea what is what.

    Some have posted that they tried the product at Best Buy and could not figure it out. To be frank my 4 year old was able to figure it out.

    So it just goes to show different strokes for different folks.

    I am technical and I like the PB others may not. It's just a tool not a religious war!


  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 10:38 AM, CntdwnToExtn wrote:

    And the article written by the author is a joke.

    Lets see what the author forgot to mention the Fire doesn't have

    RAM. Only 512 in the Fire compared to the 1gig in the PB.

    Only has 8gig of local storage? Really? 8gig? I can fill that up in a heartbeat

    Cameras...what cameras? The PB has 2 High Def cameras that can shoots 5MP/2MP and record 1080P video. I haven't owned a mobile device that couldn't take a picture! That's 3 BB's, 3 Moto's, a PB and a Xoom.

    No microphone, Bluetooth, GPS, Accelerometer, Magnetometer/Compass, Gyroscope

    No Video out

    No sensors for ambient light

    So ya, no wonder the Fire is only $199...cause there isn't anything with it.

    Amazon doesn't have the overhead of designing an operating system, they just used an existing one.

    PB not only runs QNX based applications (which many excellent ones exists) but QNX is also running Andriod applications -- which I've already signed and loaded about 70+ onto a PB.

    RIM is also starting to release Andoid apps through App World.

    Evan, have you even USED a PB?

    Nah, I doubt you have. You've just jumped on the bandwagon of shorting RIM

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2012, at 11:21 AM, dxtx wrote:

    infoThatHelp, your comments are a joke.

    "watching the Titanic on the Playbook is a joke, the guys falling off the Titanic were smaller than a pixel, virtually impossible. I couldn't find a single thing to like on the Playbook, wasted 30 minutes of my time trying it out"

    Tablets should not be used to enjoy large screen blockbuster movies on. Don't even bother watching a blockbuster movie on anything smaller than a Sharp 70" LCD TV. Although I have no problem watching cool TV shows like Nikita on my Playbook, directly from the CW website.

    If you "wasted 30 minutes" on the Playbook, then either you are not very smart, or they didn't have the Playbook set up correctly with WiFi, etc. If you actually tried using the Playbook you'd like it.

    I also agree the author of this article is biased, and probably hasn't used the Playbook.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2012, at 2:05 PM, SRonE wrote:

    This Tablet thing is getting a bit Crazy, Apple is becoming a big fashion fad and everyone will catch on once they realize how locked in you are with an apple, I was an apple fanboy for 7 years, and after converting my family over to the World of Steve Jobs and wasting $5K on Itunes, I had to laugh, as I now use two PC's that I use while my Macbooks and IPAD both just sit there ( I still like my Ipod Touch). A month ago I bought a playbook.

    The playbook???It is what you put into it, If you load it with 50GB of HD movies, and TV shows, bridge it to your blackberry, it's a great product.

    It even connects right to your TV via HDMI cable for watching a new movie at a Friends place. Where's the Ipad HDMI Jack? doesn't exist.

    As far as problems with syncing????? Do you not know how to copy and paste a file in another location?

    Seperate the Ipad from Itunes, and then you'll see the Ipad is useless, Thats why some people are at a loss for the Playbook, as the "Where's Itunes" sydrome kicks in and people are lost.

  • Report this Comment On January 16, 2012, at 5:25 PM, 2005fjr1300 wrote:

    I have two Playbooks, one when they first came out and another one I purchased for my girlfriend. They are excellent and I have not complaints except no Skype. The OS (QNX) is ultra stable, fast and multitask between email, videos, PPT, games is seamless, fast and again ultra stable. The sound/ video quality recording/ playback is extremely high quality. The form factor is perfect for my extensive travelling. When I do see an Ipad or equ in a lounge it looks very awkward for the user and seems like a big production to get it out... this form factor is easy to get out and store when needed without much attention as it look like a journal and that is how I usually carry it when I am doing calls. The Playbook is severely under rated and unjustly compared to products that may look the same but are far from. Once the OS2 comes out the email / calendar issue will not be, for me I get my personal email via the web so big deal. The Playbook is definetly a workhorse for the road warrior who needs portability, ruggedness, productivity ( Multi tasking) and media all in one. RIM had a slow start on the Apps etc but had a light year advantage using the QNX operating system as it have been deveoped for critical systems from medical, automotive to Nuclear where a real time, ultra stable, multitasking operating system is required. Unfortunately most laypeople do not recognized this and buy based on how many apps are in the library... sad.

  • Report this Comment On January 16, 2012, at 5:33 PM, 2005fjr1300 wrote:

    @ infothathelp

    ??? I think you may need some help.

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