RIM: Buy two PlayBooks, get one free

Blackberry PlaybookResearch In Motion (RIM) is looking for more ways to shift those PlayBooks. The latest idea, announced by the Ontario-based company on Friday, is to give a free PlayBook to anyone that buys two. But the question is, who’s going to buy two? Of course, there’ll be those asking another question: Who’s even going to buy one?

According to the ad on the BlackBerry website, the offer is aimed at business users, so RIM is banking on there being bosses out there who might be moved to equip company employees with its device. To further entice potential buyers, a BlackBerry leather sleeve, charging pod and HDMI cable will be offered for free with each tablet.

The latest initiative follows several others by RIM aimed at boosting sales of its poor-selling tablet. At the end of last month, a number of retailers knocked $200 off the device, bringing the cost of the entry level 16GB PlayBook down to $299.

However, it’s once again selling for $499. Also in September, news emerged that RIM was offering the tablet to employees of Canadian cell phone carrier and long-time business partner Rogers, discounted by as much as 50 percent.

The fact is, the PlayBook is struggling in a market where Apple’s iPad continues to dominate. During its first quarter of sales, RIM shipped 500,000 PlayBooks, but for the quarter ending in September, demand had already cooled markedly, with only 200,000 being shipped. Apple, by comparison, sold just over 11 million iPads during roughly the same time period.

When the PlayBook was launched in April, it came under fire for lacking a native email client and instant messaging app, as well as having a poorly stocked app store. This week it was announced that the release of a long-awaited OS update intended to fix some of these issues has been put off until next year.

RIM’s latest offering may grab the attention of some businesses, but with so many tablets coming on the market now, including Amazon’s highly-anticipated Kindle Fire, it’s hard to imagine the PlayBook ever taking off in a big way.

RIM’s offer runs until the end of December and can be purchased from a number of authorized resellers in the US and Canada (excluding Quebec).

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