Employee only sale triggers BlackBerry PlayBook fire-sale speculation

A potentially harmless employee only sale up in Canada at Rogers stores for the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has caused the Internet to start reporting on a potential mass fire-sale for the 7-inch tablet.

So, how did it all start? Well the other day news hit the web that carrier Rogers Canada was having a special employee-only sales for BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in Canada. Prices for the sale were reported as being $249 for 16GB, $349 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. Now the employee only sale is scheduled to run through December 1st, 2011. On that information and the official PlayBook shipments for the previous quarter sites like Arstechnica, BGR, and Forbes have reported that a fire-sale could soon be upon us.

Could a fire-sale happen soon? I want to say no but the happenings around the HP TouchPad make me think yes.

You see with announcing their fiscal 2Q12 financials last week RIM also announced BlackBerry Tablet OS v2.0 would be coming shortly after October’s DevCon conference to the PlayBook. With Tablet OS v2.0 the PlayBook would gain native e-mail, calendar, contact applications as well as the Android App Player.

Now what does that have to do with the HP TouchPad? If you can remember right before HP announced the TouchPad and other webOS hardware was being discontinued on August 18th, 2011 they had released webOS 3.0.2 on August 2nd, 2011. In releasing webOS 3.0.2 HP has offered TouchPad customers their first major update, RIM’s BlackBerry Tablet OS v2.0 is going to be the first major (and most anticipated) update for the PlayBook too.

Another thing that happened to the TouchPad that’s happened to the PlayBook that makes me think a fire-sale could happen is retailer price drops. After releasing their webOS 3.0.2 update HP announced a $100 price drop for their $499 16GB and $599 32GB Wi-Fi TouchPad tablets on August 11th, 2011. For RIM they haven’t announced a price drop but retailers who purchased PlayBook’s from them are doing just that, on Amazon.com you can get the 16GB PlayBook for $387.99 which amounts to a savings of $111.01 off MSRP.

A fire-sale could be in the BlackBerry PlayBook’s future but I don’t think RIM will do it this year. Currently they have a lot riding on the success of their one and only tablets success, and by all indications (they’re releasing a major update and they’ll be talking up the PlayBook and Tablet OS at DevCon to boast developer interest in the PlayBook) it doesn’t seem that RIM is giving up hope.

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