There may not be many of you in the thinking-about-buying-a-16GB-PlayBook category, but if you are, you’d better hurry — Research In Motion has announced it is to stop making the tablet.
Existing stock will remain on store shelves but once they’ve been sold, that’ll be it for the device.
The Canadian mobile company is, however, keen to make it clear that it isn’t abandoning the tablet market altogether, saying in a statement on Thursday:
“We continue to remain committed to the tablet space and the 32GB and 64GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to be available from our distributors and retailers around the world.”
Sadly for RIM, the PlayBook has been nothing short of a disaster since hitting the market. Launched to great fanfare in April 2011, eyebrows across the tech world arched in unison as reviewers took a closer look at the device.
For a start, it was overpriced — the 16GB model hit the stores with a whopping $499 price tag, while the 32GB model retailed for $599 and the 64GB $699. These prices put it on par with the iPad 2, a device which by that time had already established itself in the market, selling in huge numbers.
Also, the PlayBook was shipped without native email and calendar apps — an issue that took almost a year to sort out. An app store that paled in comparison to the iOS store and Android equivalent also did little to help its cause.
From late last year, RIM began discounting all versions of its beleaguered tablet in a bid to actually sell some of them. But the consequences were severe, with the company posting a $485-million pre-tax write-off due to unsold and discounted devices.
So why has RIM chosen to dump the $199 16GB model? If it was making any profit at all on the device, it can’t have been very much. The arrival of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, with the same screen size and identical price tag ($199), didn’t help its cause much either. Instead it has chosen to focus on the other two models.
If you’re interested in picking up one of the last 16GB PlayBooks, Best Buy still has a few going, priced at $199. The 32GB and 64GB models will continue to sell — for the time being at least — for $249 and $299, respectively.