Is the BlackBerry PlayBook overpriced?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 11, 2011

Tablets. They are trying as hard as they can to take over the market, and with stand-out devices like the ASUS Transformer, iPad 2 and HP TouchPad it is hard to think that they wouldn't take over the world. Well, at least the consumer market, anyway. But one large point of contention for the tablet is pricing, and how many people believe they are just too expensive. This will always be a rollercoaster argument, as people justify the pricing based on specifications, while some will just say it's too much and call it a day. As of right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is one of the most expensive tablets on the market, and it looks like it is time for that to change.

In fact, it may be overdue for a price drop. There isn't any doubt that when a new tablet launches, no matter the mobile operating system running it, the manufacturer is going after Apple's iPad or more recently the iPad 2. That's all well and good; there's nothing wrong with aiming high, or trying to dislodge the long-standing king. But, when your device doesn't have the same presence or track record in that specific market, you immediately run into a problem. For RIM, that problem came in the fact that they believed their name alone would promote the PlayBook, much in the same way that Apple's name did for the original iPad.

So when Research In Motion launched the smaller, less application-heavy PlayBook for the same price as the iPad 2, people understandably scratched their heads in confusion. Just going off pure statistics of the devices, along with the available "extras," there doesn't seem to be much of a reason that the PlayBook should cost the same as the iPad 2. Specifically, the smaller screen and much smaller application count (and developer support), should mean that the PlayBook doesn't rock the same price tag. It isn't that the PlayBook is a slouch by any means; the device itself is impressive on its own merits. But, against the competition, there isn't much fight in too high of a price.

What makes this even more relevant, is the fact that HP has just permanently dropped the price of the TouchPad by $100, making it just $399 for the 16GB model. That makes it the same price as the ASUS Transformer, and the Acer Iconia Tab A500, which are both stand-out Android-powered tablets. However, that leaves the PlayBook tied with the iPad 2 as one of the most expensive tablets out there, and I can't help but think that it is time for RIM to drop the price, and watch as the PlayBook becomes more of a contender, and not just in specs.

It comes down to the OS, in my opinion. While QNX Software is fantastic, it is untested in the market. Despite RIM (or BlackBerry's) name brand, it is still showcasing a brand new OS, while Android, iOS and even webOS (despite the alterations made to the tablet version) are tried-and-true. Maybe if this wasn't RIM's first tablet, or maybe if they had more of a media consumption position, this wouldn't be a conversation we would be having. But as it stands, I think RIM would see an increase in sales if they hacked the price. What do you think RIM needs to do to see more adoption for their first tablet device, and do you think they should drop the price?

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