RIM kills 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook

June 9, 2012

If you want to get your hands on a 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook then you’d best hurry, as RIM is killing it off.

In an emailed statement to Engadget, RIM (Research In Motion) has announced it is discontinuing the 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook. It will continue to sell the 32GB and 64GB models, but the 16GB version will no longer be available once existing stock has sold out. The PlayBook launched last April and reviews were mixed.

RIM will no longer be making the 16 GB model of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The 16 GB PlayBook will continue to be available for distributors and retailers while quantities last. We continue to remain committed to the tablet space and the 32 GB and 64 GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to be available from our distributors and retailers around the world. There is more value for our customers in the higher capacity models (32 GB, 64 GB), and as such we have decided to focus our efforts here.

The obvious reason for killing off the 16GB PlayBook is the lower margin of profit RIM makes on its cheapest tablet. When the various models of PlayBook were being sold at iPad prices I’m sure they were all profitable, but the temporary-which-became-permanent price cuts (from $499 to $199 for the 16GB) must have changed all that. For RIM to stick with selling the 32GB and 64GB models it must still be at least breaking even on those, however.

The other reason, as pondered by Mashable, is a strategic push back to being mainly for enterprise customers. The cheapest PlayBook would invariably be the one purchased by mainstream consumers, but new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has already stated the company “cannot succeed by trying to be everybody’s darling.”

In that scenario this isn’t a bad strategy. Mainstream tablet buyers are going either for the Apple iPad or cheap Android devices, and RIM had little room to maneuver between the two. The BlackBerry PlayBook has been relatively successful, and with RIM remaining committed to the form factor these tablets should be around for some time to come.

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