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Has RIM halted production of the PlayBook?

RIM insists that it is not getting out of the tablet business, but there are signs that PlayBook production may have stopped. And retailers are beginning to offer the device at deep discounts.

Research In Motion says it is not getting out of the tablet business, contrary to analysts who say the company may have halted production of the PlayBook and despite near-fire-sale pricing by a major retailer.

The price of all BlackBerry PlayBook models was cut $200 by Best Buy.
The price of all BlackBerry PlayBook models was cut $200 by Best Buy. Best Buy

PlayBook production has hit a wall, said market research firm DisplaySearch. "We heard from the supply side that RIM's ODM (original design manufacturer) partners don't have plans for production beyond this year," Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch, told CNET, referring to the PlayBook tablet. "And it is unusual for a manufacturing partner not to have plans for next quarter," he said.

Shim added that he doesn't have any knowledge of RIM exiting the tablet business, however.

A Reuters report earlier today cited Collins Stewart semiconductor analyst John Vihn who said, "We believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market."

There is another red flag too. Best Buy in the U.S. just cut the price on all PlayBook models by $200. Though not quite fire sale prices, it's close.

RIM is denying that it will exit the tablet business. "Any suggestion that the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued is pure fiction. RIM remains highly committed to the tablet market," RIM said in a statement today.

Last month, Hewlett-Packard got out of the consumer tablet business when it shuttered its WebOS device operations. Almost immediately its TouchPad tablet was unloaded by HP and retailers at $99 for the low-end model.