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Playbook RIP?

Hell's bells. That tablet market really is a crazy place. Apple may be continuing to sell bucketloads of iPads, and Amazon are expected to do the same with their new, dirt-cheap Kindle Fire. But pretty much every other tablet out there is having real trouble finding a place in the market. One, the HP TouchPad, has already been withdrawn from sale, the leftover stock sold off a crazy prices. And others, like the Motorola Xoom, now sell at heavy discounts from their original, iPad-matching prices.

And now it seems another tablet could be for the chop. Reuters is reporting that Research in Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, have stopped production of their Playbook tablet and are considering exiting the tablet market altogether.

The Playbook was only launched in the Spring. As the first BlackBerry tablet, and the first device to run the new 'QNX' software that will power BlackBerries from next year, it attracted a lot of attention. But that attention didn't translate into sales, with some retailers quickly discounting the device to shift units. Best Buy stores in the US are now reportedly selling it for $299, well below the RRP.

What's more, RIM had already reportedly pretty much abandoned making further tablets, scrapping plans for a 10-inch Playbook in favour of focusing on next year's BlackBerry phones.

So it wouldn't be a total shock if the Playbook had been quietly put down. But it would be a total disaster for RIM, a company already struggling with declining market share in the mobile phone market because of the iPhone and Android.

Of course, deciding to respond to the iPad within a year of its release, when they hadn't really responded to the iPhone after three years, was a bit of an odd decision for RIM in the first place. But this isn't entirely their fault: it seems no-one can compete with the iPad. We'll see if Amazon finds differently.

UPDATE: RIM denies they're axing the PlayBook.

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