news Optus has announced attractive deals with the release of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 that will see customers buying the smartphone on the $49 Optus cap (or above) receive a free BlackBerry PlayBook worth $579. This offer applies from December 7th to January 31st, 2012, and is valid on a 24-month contract period.
The news comes this week as Adele Beachley, Managing Director RIM Australia and New Zealand stated (according to ZDNet) that Research in Motion would rather offer deals on the PlayBook to boost flagging sales, than reduce the local recommended retail price.
Earlier this week, RIM had indicated that weak demand for the PlayBook and an excess inventory had necessitated a write-down in the value of the 16GB version to US$199.
The BlackBerry Torch 9860 is available from all Optus and Optus online dealers and Yes Optus stores. It features the new BlackBerry 7 operating system, with a 3.7” touch screen. An optical trackpad has been added to improve navigation. Also included in the Torch 9860 is 4GB of internal memory, expandable to 32GB with an external memory card to boost storage capacity for content and apps.
This BlackBerry bundle will enable customers to wirelessly connect the BlackBerry Torch 9860 handset via BlackBerry Bridge to obtain secure access to their email, address book, calendar, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), task list and more – using the high-resolution touch display.
Features of the BlackBerry PlayBook include a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM. The built-in Adobe Flash Player gives users access to rich websites, online games, streaming videos and more. Measuring 7”, the BlackBerry PlayBook is lightweight and thin. The 3MP front-facing and 5MP rear-facing camera (both of which support full HD, 1080p video recording) capture quality images and videos that users can view on the 1024×600 resolution capacitive screen.
Optus’ deal this week doesn’t represent the kind of steep discounting we’re seeing on the PlayBook in the US, but in my view, it does represent the beginning of the end for the PlayBook tablets in Australia.
While the tablets are pretty good quality, like other tablets in Australia, they simply have not had much sales success that I can see, with much of the BlackBerry set already having picked up an iPad some time ago. When you couple this with RIM’s global financial and market share troubles, one wonders whether in six months’ time, the PlayBook will still be on sale locally — or whether it will have suffered the same fate as the HP TouchPad.
Image credit: Research in Motion. Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay