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16GB BlackBerry PlayBook flushed away by RIM

Disties and retailers flogging last dregs

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Ailing Canadian device maker Research In Motion (RIM) is killing off its entry-level BlackBerry PlayBook.

In a mailed statement to The Channel, RIM confirmed it is halting the production line for the 16GB version.

"The 16 GB PlayBook will continue to be available for distributors and retailers while quantities last," said RIM's mouthpiece.

"We continue to remain committed to the tablet space and the 32 GB and 64GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to be available from our distributors and retailers around the world."

Adoption of the little loved PlayBook line grew following swingeing price cuts from RIM as it tried to clear a massive build-up of inventories, as revealed first by The Channel.

The lower average sales price became a permanent feature in 2012 and this seemed to spur greater interest as RIM sold 500,000 in Q1 giving it a market share of 500,000, according to Canalys data.

The analyst did not split out the specific models and as PlayBook was not on the market in Q1 2011, a year-on-year comparison was not possible.

Ranjit Atwal, Gartner research director, said the device "never took off" and the fact the tablet had to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone to use email worked against the range, as did the dearth of applications.

"This just proves that vendors need the whole package to compete with Apple," he said.

RIM is embarking on a cost-cutting campaign that includes mass redundancies as it looks to save $1bn by the end of fiscal 2013 ending March to stem operating losses.

But jettisoning the low margin 16GB machine is a very small step in that turnaround effort. ®

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