BlackBerry PlayBook going the way of HP TouchPad, says analyst

Another would-be iPad "killer" could soon find itself in the graveyard, according to Collins Stewart semiconductor analyst John Vihn.

In a note written to clients today, Vihn said that he believed that "RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market" and that "RIM has cancelled development of additional tablet projects." The reported halt in PlayBook production comes just as Best Buy has slashed the PlayBook's retail price by $200 and as Amazon has unveiled its own $199 Kindle Fire tablet that has been touted as the first tablet able to give Apple a run for its money.

BACKGROUND: BlackBerry PlayBook deep discounts being offered

RIM released the PlayBook this past spring and the tablet has become yet another entrant in the long line of failed iPad "killers." While the tablet had strong hardware, it was plagued by key flaws such as the lack of stand-alone email, contact or calendar capabilities, as the only way users could get such capabilities was by syncing it with their own BlackBerry device through a Bluetooth connection. RIM has shipped only 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch in April even as rival Apple reportedly sold more than 1 million iPad 2 units in the first weekend of its release in March.

CrackBerry writer Kevin Michaluk says he won't be surprised if RIM does stop PlayBook production since "RIM already scrapped their building of a 10" PlayBook and we know that the sales of their 7" tablet have been less than stellar and RIM hasn't made any profits in the tablet space." Michaluk predicts that RIM will exit the tablet market for the time being to focus on developing its QNX-based smartphones, which he expects will be more competitive against the iPhone and Android-based devices.

So far no tablet on the market has been able to effectively compete with Apple's iPad, which was far and away the top tablet ranked by Consumer Reports earlier this year. Among other things, the iPad 2 scored high marks with Consumer Reports for its battery life, display screen and ease of use. Consumer Reports said it evaluated tablets using 17 criteria, including "touch-screen responsiveness, versatility, portability, screen glare, and ease of use," and found that the iPad 2 scored a rating of "excellent" in nearly every category. HP was the first manufacturer to wave the white flag in the tablet market when it announced it was discontinuing production of its HP TouchPad tablet this past summer, although the tablet became a hot seller when the company slashed its price all the way down to $100.

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Brad Reed

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