RIM's PlayBook: Buy two, get one free

The offer could be an effort to boost flagging shipments, an analyst says

Customers who buy two BlackBerry PlayBooks will get a third one free, in what one analyst says is an effort by Research In Motion to boost flagging sales.

The offer is valid until Dec. 31 from authorized resellers, RIM said on its website. Buyers also get a free accessory with each tablet.

Such offers are usually a sign that a product isn't selling well, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. It's probably an attempt by RIM to lower its inventory, he said, and could be a sign that a new tablet is on the horizon.

RIM may release a new tablet early next year, he speculated, along with the release of its operating-system update, PlayBook OS 2.

RIM shipped just 200,000 PlayBooks in its fiscal quarter that ended Aug. 27, down from 500,000 the quarter before that, when it started selling the product. Rival Apple sold 11.12 million iPads in its fiscal quarter ended Sept. 24.

An entry-level Playbook with 16GB of storage is priced at US$335 on Amazon and $499 on Best Buy's website, which was its original price.

The Playbook was released April 19 and was quickly criticized for lacking a native email client. Users have to link the tablet to a BlackBerry smartphone to view email, an issue that could be resolved with PlayBook OS 2, Gold said.

RIM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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