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RIM selling PlayBooks at odd prices

The PlayBook got off to a promising start but sales have gone downhill since its first three months on the market

Research In Motion is selling all three of its Playbook models in the U.S. for $299, which begs the question why would you buy a 16GB for $299 when you can get the 64GB for the same price? Details on these prices can be found on RIM’s U.S. Web site http://store.shopblackberry.com/Product/BlackBerry-PlayBook/PRD-38548-001?iid=OTC-wtbbtus-dec22.

has launched yet another sale on its PlayBook tablet, selling discounted versions of the device for $300. The discount applies at RIM’s online outlet and participating retailers.

In Canada, the Playbook is available for as low as $199.

However, while $300 represents a substantial knockdown of list prices for the 32 GB ($599) and 64GB ($699) models, it represents a price increase for the 16GB models, which have been selling in some places for as low as $199.

Even at $300, a buyer may not find the PlayBook much of a bargain. It has little app support, no personal information manager or e-mail, and it only supports Wi-Fi.

Although the PlayBook had promising sales when it was introduced in 2011 — it sold 500,000 units during its first three months on the market — sales have been downhill ever since, despite promotions to stoke up those numbers.

Last September, for instance, Best Buy clipped $100 off every model in the line. And in October, RIM offered a two for one sale on the devices. Nothing worked, however, and in December, RIM wrote off the whole PlayBook experiment and took a charge on its books for its entire tablet inventory — 970,000 units worth $485 million.

RIM isn’t the only tablet maker trying to move inventory following the holidays. Sony, too, has pared the price of its Tablet S slate. The 16GB model ($500) is now selling for $400 and the 32GB model ($600) is $500. Those prices are $100 below comparable iPad tablets.