HTC and RIM Feel Kindle Fire Heat, Lower Tablet Prices

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News of the Amazon Kindle Fire has burned less than a week, and tablet makers are already feeling the heat and lowering prices in response to the $200 Amazon tablet. Both RIM and HTC have announced price cuts to the PlayBook and Flyer tablets, and others may soon follow.

HTC FlyerHTC claimed earlier this week that it is knocking $200 off the price of its Wi-Fi-only Flyer Android tablet, cutting it to $299.99 at Best Buy and BestBuy.com, from the launch price of $499.99. The 7-inch, Gingerbread tablet was among the first Android devices to support active pen input. There is no word on if Sprint will follow suit with its WiMAX version, the EVO View 4G, which currently costs $399.99 with a two-year contract, plus $79.99 for the Scribe pen.

RIM has also dropped the price of the 7-inch PlayBook tablet at Best Buy by $200 for all versions. The 16GB now costs $299.99, while the 32GB and 64GB units cost $399 and $499, respectively. This price drop follows similar deals from Staples and Office Depot.

The Best Buy PlayBook price drop is a limited offer, and only available through October 8. Initial speculation suggested that RIM was liquidating stock and ultimately abandoning the BlackBerry tablet, given the PlayBook’s poor sales in the last quarter. However, RIM has officially denied that it is halting its tablet efforts.

BlackBerry PlayBookExpect other tablet makers to follow suit and drop prices in the face of competition from Amazon, and as the current crop of tablets are replaced by new models, which are expected to be announced in the coming months leading up to CES.

Many new tablets will run Ice Cream Sandwich, which is the codename given to Google’s latest version of Android. The search giant claims that this Android version will unite both the smartphone (Gingerbread) and tablet (Honeycomb) version of the operating system into one single OS environment.

Samsung is holding an “Unpacked” event at CTIA on October 11. It’s expected that it will unveil the first smartphone with Ice Cream Sandwich, the Nexus Prime.

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