BlackBerry PlayBook goes on sale at retailers, up to $200 off

Update: RIM has issued a statement, clarifying that the price hasn’t dropped, and that these are just promotional rebates.

“The official retail price of BlackBerry PlayBook has not changed.  However, as mentioned on the Q2 earnings call on Sept. 15th,  we have a number promotional plans in place for the fall with our retail partners that are intended to drive sell-through and increased adoption of the BlackBerry PlayBook.  We are already starting to see some of these promotions being implemented in the form of instant rebates and gift cards within the consumer channel, and expect these promotions to continue into the holiday season.  The BlackBerry PlayBook has established itself as a high-performance tablet, and we are confident that these activities, along with the upcoming software upgrade, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, will help to generate an increase in demand and sell through of the BlackBerry PlayBook over the upcoming months.”

As hinted at during their quarterly conference call, BlackBerry PlayBook prices have started seeing cuts by way of short-term sales and mail-in rebates. Best Buy and Future Shop in Canada have knocked off $100 on all three BlackBerry PlayBook models until October 6, starting at $399.99 for the 16 GB version.  Until October 1, Office Depot and Staples in the U.S. have not only cut the price by $100, but they’re also offering a $100 mail-in rebate, making the final cost of the 16 GB model $299.99. There have been scattered reports that Wal-Mart is selling the 16 GB PlayBook for $250. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like service providers are slashing prices too, but Rogers and Telus employees are getting a private deal on them.

RIM’s tablet has been out since the spring, and though the hardware by all accounts feels and performs well, the new QNX-based operating system has been limited in function, and offered little in the way of updates. The 7-inch 1024 x 600 touchscreen is sharp and responsive, coupled with some high-quality stereo speakers. The twin cameras are both capable of shooting HD video, which can be stored on 16, 32, or 64 GB storage drives, depending on the model you get. Take a look at my full review here for a closer look.

RIM may have an excess of unsold stock, so it makes sense that they start cutting prices on the PlayBook, but I wouldn’t chalk this up to quite the same fire sale as the HP TouchPad experienced. It seems really tricky to find the $250 16 GB PlayBook, and most of the discounts seem to only be for the next couple of days. Even with a price cut, BlackBerry is unlikely to catch up on the iPad’s lead, but at least it will draw some extra attention just prior to the 2.0 launch of the PlayBook’s OS. There’s also an LTE version just around the corner, which may warrant the clearing-out of the Wi-Fi-only stock.

The real question here is, how cheap would a PlayBook have to be for you to get one? Is there any price point where it’s worth your while? Personally, I’m not sure if I could bring myself to shell out $500 and up for any tablet at this point, but for $200 – $300, I might. If you’ve bought one between September 7 and 22nd, you may be eligible for an extra $100 MIR over here.

[via BGR]

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