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PlayBook stock mountain: RIM slashes prices

Unloved fondle-slab is 'a dog with fleas'

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RIM has started to slash prices for its little-loved BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in the US amid channel talk on this side of the pond that the fondleslabs are shifting more slowly than expected and inventory levels are out of control.

The troubled Canadian firm is taking a lead from HP which saw demand for its TouchPad go through the roof after it hacked prices ahead of canning the product family. RIM is trying to tempt customers with a $100 coupon and $100 rebate.

The latest price-hacking measures have yet to reach Europe, although telco launch partner for the PlayBook Carphone Warehouse confirmed it is now giving PlayBooks away for free when bought as part of a mobile contract with its BlackBerry device.

A spokeswoman at Carphone Warehouse refused to comment on shipments to date or be drawn on any price cuts that may or may not be pending.

Reseller sources reckon RIM rushed its product to market without the features – unless tethered to a BlackBerry – required to mount a credible challenge to Apple: no contact database, native email, chat app or 3G connectivity.

"It's a dog with fleas," claimed one reseller. "Demand is very poor".

Another said customers had trialled it but came back unimpressed. "It's too expensive and not fit for purpose in the enterprise space ... it's a tethering device so has to be carried with a BlackBerry."

Sources estimate that up to 500,000 PlayBooks have yet to find a home. RIM has already cut sales forecasts for the year.

There is a pressing urgency to clear this kit as RIM readies a 3G version with more functionality but it is playing catch-up with Apple – the third-gen iPad is expected to be released early next year.

The concerns over stock heaps further misery on RIM which is firing staff and watching as demand for Samsung and Apple phones casts a shadow over its handset biz.

European PlayBook distributor Brightpoint refused to comment and despite repeated attempts, RIM was unavailable for comment. ®

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