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Price-slashing fails to ignite PlayBook sales

Channel says fondleslab fever bypassing RIM

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RIM's little-loved fondleslab is failing to get the tills ringing, even after significant price cuts, channel partners have claimed.

BlackBerry PlayBook prices were cut by $200 in the US last month as retailers cried out for something extra to help shift mountain mounting stock levels estimated at some half a million units across the world.

Last week, retailers PC World and Currys lopped £150 off the price of the 16GB and 32GB models, and other partners including Carphone Warehouse, Phone4U, Best Buy along with business resellers Insight, Vodafone and Orange all had access to the same rebate deal.

But sources reckon that while the discounts have given ensuing sales a slight uplift, adoption remains disappointing.

This is hardly the reaction troubled RIM would have hoped for following HP's fire sales of TouchPads after it killed off the product line and reduced prices for an entry level SKU to £89.

The main sticking point is the lack of features – unless tethered to a BlackBerry: there's no contact database, native email, chat app or 3G connectivity.

But the recent high-profile three-day debacle in which BlackBerry email services were up and down has not warmed customers to the PlayBook, added sources.

"The timing of BlackBerry [mail] going down over three days [means that] people have lost confidence," said a source.

RIM last month dismissed industry talk that it is set to jettison the PlayBook as "pure fiction" but it has yet to turn its fondleslab into a real killer product. ®

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