RIM to sell PlayBook tablet for under $500

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) plans to sell its PlayBook tablet for under $500 when it goes on sale in North America in the first quarter, the company's co-CEO said.

RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is set to go on sale next year.RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie did not disclose the exact pricing of the tablet--or which carriers RIM will partner with, if any. He told Bloomberg that the 7-inch PlayBook, which runs on software from QNX, will be "competitively priced."

The WiFi-only version of the iPad starts at $499. Apple captured 95 percent of the tablet market in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, but in the coming quarters will face a growing number of competitors. Indeed, this week T-Mobile USA began offering Samsung's Android-powered GalaxyTab for $400 with a two-year contract and $600 without one; Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will offer the same pricing, and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will launch the GalaxyTab for $600 without a contract. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) also will launch Samsung's gadget, but hasn't yet disclosed pricing. 

Balsillie said RIM is thinking of selling the PlayBook at retailers like Best Buy and Target in addition to working with carriers, and also said that the company is looking to South Korea as a potential tablet market outside the United States.

RIM, the world's No. 5 handset maker, is banking on the tablet to restore some of its luster. According to new research from Gartner, RIM's global smartphone market share dropped from 20.7 percent in the third quarter of 2009 to 14.8 percent in the third quarter this year.

Interestingly, AT&T is giving RIM a lift as the holiday shopping season approaches. The carrier slashed the price of its flagship BlackBerry device, the Torch, in half, down to $99.99 with a two-year contract. "That's a dream come true," Balsillie said. "New pricing, new promo, right into the holiday season--what can I say? I couldn't be happier."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Gartner release

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