PlayBook Tablet: Retailers Cut Prices, RIM Cuts Hope

Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook can be had for $200 off list price. But engineers have dampened expectations for the tablet's Android capabilities.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

September 28, 2011

2 Min Read

After RIM reported disappointing BlackBerry PlayBook tablet salesin its fiscal second quarter earnings on September 15, many expected price cuts to follow. The tablet was originally priced at $499, $599, and $699 for the 16-GB, 32-GB, and 64-GB versions, respectively.

Both Office Depot and Staples are offering price cuts. The retail outlets are taking $100 off at the register, dropping the out-of-pocket cost to $399, $499, and $599 (before taxes). If $100 doesn't sound like much to you, you can get an additional $100 off from both outlets in the form of a gift card at Office Depot and a rebate at Staples. Laughably, the discounts are only available until October 1, which is this Saturday.

Bottom line, you can get the PlayBook for $200 off if you don't mind working for it. Only you can answer the internal dialog about whyyou'd want a PlayBook at this point, especially after you read what I have to report next.

RIM held a developer event in Europe this week. RIM engineers explained to developers in attendance just what the PlayBook will--and won't--be able to do when it comes to Android apps. The news, as reported by Thinq, is not very encouraging.

First, a quick refresher. RIM announced earlier this year that it would dramatically expand the availability of apps to the QNX-based PlayBook by offering Android-based apps. In order to make this happen, RIM is releasing an emulator programlater this year that acts as a runtime for Android apps. Instant access to the Android Market, right? So we thought--incorrectly.

Here's a list of what won't work: Android Live Wallpapers; SIP and SIP VoIP; applications that contain widgets; any apps built using the Android Native Development Kit; apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher. Also not working? Google Maps, any sort of in-app billing, the Android text-to-speech engine, and the Android cloud-to-device messaging service.

It is impossible to say how many Android applications this will render useless on the PlayBook, but you can bet it will be a significant number.

This is disappointing, to say the least. However, given the difficult task RIM assigned itself in hoping to port Android apps to the PlayBook, it isn't all that surprising, either.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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