Research In Motion Ltd. appears poised to discontinue its current version of the PlayBook tablet, according to a research report.
Investment research firm OTR Global has issued a report saying RIM may be about to stop production of the Wi-Fi-only version of its tablet. RIM had been expected to launch a cellular-equipped version of the PlayBook later this year, but for now, the only one available to consumers is the Wi-Fi model.
RBC analyst Mike Abramsky said in a note that the move to discontinue the Wi-Fi PlayBook may reflect RIM's strategy to lower channel inventory after lower-than-expected sales, or a realization by the company that a cellular-equipped PlayBook may cannibalize sales of the current model, among other factors.
However Abramsky said the move may also be prompted by a shift in priorities at the company, as RIM prepares to launch an entirely new line of smart phones in 2012 running on an operating system developed by QNX, a software-maker the company bought last year. RIM is essentially betting its future on the success of those devices, as it attempts to claw back market share from rivals such as Apple and Google.
“RIM also appears to be re-prioritizing its R&D from PlayBook to its QNX-based 'superphones' expected early 2012, considering its importance to stemming U.S. share losses,” Abramsky wrote.
Depending on how many PlayBook units most retailers still have in stock, a move to discontinue the Wi-Fi PlayBook may have little effect on the actual availability of RIM's tablets, assuming the company still plans to deliver the cellular-equipped model by the fall of this year.
A RIM spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request to confirm or deny the OTR report's claim.