RIM kills off its cheapest BlackBerry PlayBook

The 16GB PlayBook is soon to be no more.

Research In Motion reps have let customers know that the pared-down version of the BlackBerry maker’s tablet is no longer being manufactured and will only be sold until supplies run out.

PlayBook sales have historically not been so great for the troubled-but-not-yet-doomed mobile company. However, RIM stated in recent weeks it had sold around 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter of 2012. But at least part of that success was due to fire sale pricing during the holidays and reduced prices in the beginning on 2012.

Basically, the profit margins on the 16GB models aren’t high enough to justify RIM’s continued marketing and sales efforts.

Still, the manufacturer said in a rep’s email, “We continue to remain committed to the tablet space, and the 32GB and 64GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to offer great value to our customers.”

Currently, you can buy one of the last 16GB models for $199. A 32GB version will run you $249, and you can buy the 64GB model for $299.

RIM’s earnings reports have been far from stellar in recent quarters. For the fourth quarter of 2011, the company reported $4.19 billion in revenue, far below its original forecasts. Still, the company — and its devices — hold sway over the lucrative government and enterprise markets.

But its failure to impress with its tablet offerings, as well as its general decline in public favor, has taken a toll. Here’s a chart we made showing how RIM stock is faring over the past 12 months compared to other U.S. tablet manufacturers, showing RIM down 71 percent year over year and trailing the pack by a wide margin:

RIMM Chart

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