64GB PlayBook Gets Price Cut To $549

Big-box retailer Best Buy has dropped the price of Research in Motion’s 64GB BlackBerry PlayBook to $549, making it the latest salvo in an ongoing price war among non-iPad tablet makers.

The 16GB and 32GB models received a more modest discount of $50, bring their prices to $449 and $549 respectively. However, the sale does not appear to be fully thought out, the 32GB PlayBook is now the same price as the 64GB version.

It looks like Best Buy is reducing the 64GB version of the device to $550. That’s not a bad deal… if you want a PlayBook. Unfortunately, it’s still not a particularly good deal if you just want a tablet. RIM hasn’t followed up much on adding value to the device, and while the new features due this month will make it more of a contender, playing catch-up isn’t going to do it for this thing.

RIM revealed in June that it had shipped 500,000 PlayBook tablets,
though it declined to comment on actual sell-through of the device. Analysts have called the company a “one-trick pony” with a trick that no longer works. The struggling company announced in July that it will cut 2,000 jobs, roughly 10.5 percent of its workforce.

The early adopters are still waiting on the promised Android app support, which may be scheduled for a 2012 release alongside the QNX Blackberry devices. By that time, though, there may be a new iPad and a dozen or so new Android tablets.

Interest in PlayBook does not appear to be strong. Sprint announced last month that it was abandoning plans to sell a 4G WiMax version of the PlayBook tablet. One recent report claimed RIM is placing its tablet hopes in 2012.

Apple’s competitors in the tablet space are expected to slash prices throughout September, followed by “at least two waves of price cuts” between September and the 2011 holiday season.

No word on whether the 16GB or 32GB model (the latter costs the same as a 64GB now) will be getting similar price drops.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted pricing struggles for his competitors as early as last October.

“Our potential competitors [in tablets] are having a tough time coming close to iPad’s pricing. iPad incorporates everything we’ve learned about building high value products,” he said. “We create our own A4 chip, software, battery chemistry, enclosure, everything. This results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof will be in the pricing of our competitors’ products, which will offer less for more.”

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