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Research In Motion Ltd. has extended an ongoing sale of its PlayBook tablet computers until Feb. 4, 2012, while reducing the price in the United States of all three models to $299.

The PlayBook, which has had dismal sales at full price, has found some success after RIM and major retailers discounted the PlayBook. Previously, all three models – the 16 gigabyte (GB) version, the 32 GB version and one with 64 GB of memory – were discounted by $300, bringing the price to $199, $299 and $399, respectively.

Now, all models in the U.S. are $299 – making the 64 GB version a relative bargain to the 16 GB PlayBook. In Canada there are still multiple price points for the tablet computer. The sale comes ahead of a crucial software update for the device that RIM has promised will come in February, after previously delaying it. The update should bring e-mail functionality, which the company promised would be here in the summer, though RIM said it will not include BlackBerry Messenger – RIM's popular instant messaging service which is, like e-mail, currently only available on the PlayBook when tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone's Internet connection.

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RIM's PlayBook has faltered in a highly competitive tablet market dominated by Apple Inc.'s enormously popular iPad. Even major hardware competitors such as Samsung are struggling to find a foothold against the iPad, which has around 90 per cent of tablet computer market share, and many companies are discounting devices below the cost of production after rushing to take part in what many believed was a lucrative market.

Hewlett-Packard famously discounted its tablet attempt, the TouchPad, to just $99 – prompting run-on-the-bank style shopping after the device failed to sell at $499. Sony has also recently discounted its tablet by $100, bringing its price down to $399.

The PlayBook, though, remains a small part of RIM's business, and the company's BlackBerry handsets continue to make inroads in many emerging markets around the world. Despite losing market share in North America and Europe to Samsung devices running Google Inc.'s Android software and Apple's iPhone, RIM has found success in Africa, and countries such as Argentina and Indonesia.

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