RIM: Buy 2 PlayBook Tablets, Get Another Free

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It’s never a good sign when you have to give your tablets away in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. A month after cutting consumer prices on its PlayBook, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is telling businesses they’ll throw in a free tablet if they buy two of the devices. The only thing missing from this desperate plea for sales is the word “please.”

The deal is available until Dec. 31 for BlackBerry business customers. If they buy two PlayBook tablets of the same configuration from an authorized Value Added Reseller they get a third device free, along with some accessories. The deal would drop a $500 16GB Wi-Fi PlayBook to only $330.

In September, Canadian retailers like Best Buy and Staples began offering the $500 PlayBook for just $300. The record for deep cuts likely goes to HP, which slashed prices of its TouchPad tablet right out of the gate, eventually cutting the unit to only $89.

The most recent price reduction by RIM may be as a result of poor sales (Just 700,000 PlayBooks shipped since April) combined with unflagging demand for the iPad and multiple stumbles by the Waterloo-based firm. First, the QNX-powered PlayBook was released without support for such minor functions as email. Next, BlackBerry smartphone users suffered a wide service blackout. Although RIM offered BlackBerry users $100 in free apps, trade-ins of the device have skyrocketed by 80 percent. Its unclear what else RIM can do to move the tablets which no one seems to want to take home.