RIM just announced two new ways to save big on the BlackBerry PlayBook.
First, the company once again slashed the price of the PlayBook. Until February 11, the tablet will be shipping from shopblackberry.com at a discounted rate of $199 for 16GB, $249 for 32GB and $299 for 64GB.
But what if you'd rather have it for free? On Thursday, VP of developer relations Alec Saunders tweeted that Android app developers who submit an app to BlackBerry's App World by February 13 could get a free PlayBook. His tweet included a link to BlackBerry's developer tools page, where interested parties can learn how to convert their apps for PlayBook.
Even if you can't cash in on the free deal, with the new PlayBook 2.0 operating system update rumored to be right around the corner, $200 sounds like a pretty good bargain.
Tech Crunch's Devin Coldewey writes, "I have to say that at $200, with the new OS, this is a really good deal. For the price of a Nook or Fire, you get a device with much better specs and some big-boy productivity software."
The discounted PlayBooks probably won't ship with the new operating system. However,according to the Berry Review, a "very solid source" has pegged a February 17 release date for the long-awaited software upgrade, which means those who buy the PlayBook at the discounted price should be seeing an upgrade very soon. The OS the PlayBook currently runs on is missing key components like calendar and contacts apps, as well as a native email service. Many have been calling for an upgrade almost since the PlayBook's launch last April.
PlayBook 2.0 was well-received at its CES debut last month, although some wondered whether the 8-month wait had been too long to save the struggling PlayBook line. As Tech Crunch wrote in a review of the OS from CES, "It would’ve been better to enter the tablet space now (with 2.0) than to try and regain consumer interest in what has become a rather crowded segment."
This isn't the first time RIM has tried to spur interest in the PlayBook by dropping the price.
In November the price of the 16GB PlayBook briefly dropped to $199 -- just in time for the holiday shopping rush. The deep discount was instituted again in mid-December, and just last month RIM announced that for a limited time all PlayBook models would sell for $299.
The positive reactions to these price drops has prompted speculation that RIM would do well to slash the tablet's price permanently. After a run on the discounted PlayBook at Best Buy locations in November, CNET's Brooke Crothers wrote that $199 is the price the tablet should have sold for from day one.
We've rated the BlackBerry PlayBook to be one of RIM's biggest failures from the past year. Check out out slideshow (below) to see other big BlackBerry disasters in 2011.
The PlayBook tablet, which was the BlackBerry maker's answer to the iPad, went on sale in April 2011. Since then, RIM has lost $485 million on unsold units. At the beginning of January, RIM slashed the price of all models of its tablet to $299. The special pricing will last until February 4. PlayBooks, which come in 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte models, typically retail for $499, $599 and $699, respectively, according to CNET. In November, RIM temporarily slashed the price of the 16GB version of the tablet to $199 at certain retail locations.
In October, BlackBerry suffered an outage that affected many of its then 70-million worldwide users, leaving some of its customers in Asia, Europe, Latin American and Africa without service for as many as three days. Some users in the U.S. were affected, but not for as long a period.
In December, two RIM executives were fired after a flight they were on was forced to be diverted because the pair's "drunken rowdiness," the AP reports.
Research in Motion announced in December 2011 that its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 platform won't be available until the end of 2012. According to the AP, the company claims the holdup is because the chipset needed for the phones running the platform won't be available until the middle of this year.
In 2011, RIM's stock dropped a massive 75 percent.
In less than a year, RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market dropped by almost 50 percent, from 30.4 percent in January 2011 to 16.6 percent in November 2011. In 2009, RIM controlled 44 percent of the US smartphone market. (Pictured above is the HTC Desire HD Android, which runs on Google's much more popular Android platform.)
A nearly 75 percent drop in stock price in 2011 did not please investors. At the end of 2011, Jaguar Financial Corp, one of the largest investors in RIM, called "for substantial corporate governance change and for a sale of RIM, whether as a whole or as separate parts." Vic Alboini, the chief executive of Jaguar Financial, told the BBC earlier this month that RIM has "lost it." "The party is over, we believe, in terms of trying to design that cool, tech savvy smartphone," he said. "Microsoft has over $50 billion in cash, RIM has $1.5 billion. There is no way they'll be able to compete."
The family of 11-year-old Kian McCreath of Coventry, U.K., gave RIM some of its worst publicity in 2012, telling the media the boy was burned and left with permanent scarring when his BlackBerry Curve 9320 exploded. Although cell phones that are left to charge too long are known to explode, for RIM the news represented a horrible publicity disaster that came just weeks ahead of the launch of its BlackBerry 10.