No regrets from Best Buy on stocking RIM PlayBook

NEW YORK Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:09pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Big-box electronics retailer Best Buy has no regrets about stocking Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet, despite the product's poor reception and subsequent sharp discounting.

The BlackBerry maker relied heavily on retailers like Best Buy and Office Depot to sell its response to Apple's iPad, but it has barely dented Apple's dominance of the tablet market.

"We don't regret trying any new product that our vendors bring into the marketplace," Best Buy's president for the Americas, Mike Vitelli, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

The PlayBook hit North American shelves in April before a global launch in July, but sales have lagged in part because the tablet still does not offer long-promised core BlackBerry functions such as corporate email and calendar, and boasts only a small fraction of the consumer-friendly apps available on the iPad.

This week, RIM slashed $300 from the price of most PlayBook models in North America ahead of U.S. Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season. The move should boost sales at the expense of RIM's operating margins.

The regular price of the 7-inch PlayBook matched the 10-inch iPad with equivalent storage and connectivity.

"When a product is less successful, you do what you need to do, and you move to the next thing," Vitelli said. "That kind of quick reaction by the suppliers, whether it is BlackBerry or HP with their product, I actually think that is good for consumers too."

Hewlett-Packard slashed the price of its TouchPad tablet to $99 in August after just six weeks on store shelves, prompting frenzied demand that prompted the company to reconsider its planned abandonment of the tablet.

RIM says it has shipped 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch, a figure dwarfed by the millions of iPads Apple sells each quarter. The Canadian company has since had to defend itself against claims it would abandon the tablet market altogether.

Best Buy and other retailers started cutting prices for the PlayBook by as much as $150 in September in what analysts said was a bid to get rid of rising inventory.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in New York, writing by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; editing by Rob Wilson)

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