Is the Blackberry Playbook Fire Sale Beginning?

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 3, 2012
Updated • Mar 11, 2013

Of the biggest tech stories in 2011 it was difficult to beat the news of the HP TouchPad fire sale where silly prices resulted in queues outside stores and websites crashing around the world.  I was lucky enough to get a 32Gb TouchPad myself for a price so low I can barely remember paying for it at all.

Now after much speculation the prices of RIM's Playbook 7 inch tablet are also beginning to crash with the 16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb versions all for sale on the RIM website in the US for an equal $299.  It's not clear why all models have been pitched at the same price but this presents a $400 discount on the most expensive model and is almost 50% off the cheapest.

This is where Android tablets have a slight advantage, with the core operating system being free, but it's a common trend because a tablet is seen much more as a consumer electronics device than a computer and, thus, people simply don't want to spend PC money on something that will only be for light usage.  This makes complete sense when compared to the pricing of other "dedicated" devices such as the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.

So what does this mean for the tablet market going forward, and what might it mean for Windows 8 where Microsoft will levy a charge for the core OS on each tablet sold.  Clearly consumers are speaking loudly with their wallets and saying that, overall, tablets are far too expensive.  There's still a good market for tablets but at $400 each they're too expensive for most.  While many people are anticipating Windows 8 tablets it's very likely that overall sales will be sluggish, pushed downwards by tight profit margins and the high cost of hardware.  Apple too could see sales figures drop and the iPad become a high-end product, unless they choose to release a 7 inch version sometime soon that is.

It's also a pity that two really great tablet operating systems now look set to be lost forever as the TouchPad and Playbook disappear.  Both operating systems, and some of the associated hardware such as the Playbook's touch-sensitive bezel, were highly innovative.  Having lived through the all-exciting home-computing revolution of the 1980's I can say that it was inevitable that the number of tablet operating systems on the market would dwindle, but competition breeds innovation and, as such, it's always sad to see something go.

If you're in the market for a tablet then it might be a good time to buy a Playbook.  In the UK the 16Gb and 32Gb versions can currently be bought from the Carphone Warehouse for just £169 and £199 respectively and it's entirely possible that these prices might fall further and extend to other suppliers.  Keep an eye on these prices because if the TouchPad fire sale taught us anything, it's that the final few days could come and go very quickly indeed, and once they're gone... they're gone.


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  1. charliechan said on January 4, 2012 at 5:42 am

    “It’s also a pity that two really great tablet operating systems now look set to be lost forever as the TouchPad and Playbook disappear”

    The statement is only true for the TouchPad, the PlayBook is not going anywhere soon, it is still supported by RIM.

    I bought my 64GB PlayBook here in Canada for the full retail price of $699 and wish I would of waited for these prices drop which happened about a month or two ago here. Yes it was sluggish and not many apps for it at first, no native email or contacts, but today there are lots of apps, plus you can sideload Android apps. RIM has annouced version 2.0 of the OS will be launched in February which will make some UI changes include native email and plus there will be support for Android apps through the BlackBerry App World, they are making it easy for Android developers to port their apps over, which will make a difference for users because there will be loads more Apps for the PlayBook.

    It is funny how people don’t remember the issues when the iPad first had when they were first launched and it took Apple a year to implement a lot of features, RIM pretty much released an awesome piece of hardware which is top of line compared to other tablets, however they released it with a half baked OS which should get a lot better by February…..I hope!

    Yes I like BlackBerrys better then iToys….however if RIM doesn’t improve itself in 2012 I’m jumping shit to WM7 or Android. Before there is comments about why I don’t like Apple products I got this to say, I have played with all iPhones, configured and played with lots of iPad 1 and 2, they are great for the “regular consumer” I was addicted to Angry Birds for a week till I delivered the iPad to the client (Angry Birds is now available for the PlayBook) I just don’t want to own anything Apple because your put in a nice walled in Zen Garden and can only do what they allow you to do unless you jailbreak, you can’t even change the default font (just the size) on iToys without jailbreaking. umm…I lost my train of thought, enough rambling, you guys get the point.

  2. Robert Palmar said on January 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    RIM announced a promotion on all models in the US to sell for $299.
    With Blackberry Phones tanking maybe it is a promotion and
    RIM is committed to making this tablet be a success.

  3. Beecher Bowers said on January 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I tried out a play book a few months ago and couldn’t take it more than two days. While the size and weight were fine, I found it noticeably sluggish in response time. The gesture controls on the edges of the screen were counter-intuitive.

    To check your blackberry email on it, you have to have your blackberry “tethered” via Bluetooth and nearby.

  4. Pete. said on January 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Once again, Australia is getting ripped off.
    I doubt they’ll sell at those prices.

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