Here’s Why RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook Outsold the iPad – And Why It Never Will Again

It’s big news that RIM’s seemingly down-and-out BlackBerry PlayBook was the top-selling tablet in Canada last week, out-dueling Apple’s wildly popular iPad for the first time in history. We were one of the first to report on this over the weekend.

And while we didn’t offer any insight into the upset at the time, our savvy readers weren’t fooled by this apparent success story for one bit. According to them, us, and logic itself, here’s why the PlayBook outsold the iPad last week—and why it won’t happen again.

1. The iPad 3 is going to be announced this week. We don’t know the device specs, but Apple’s already issued invites to an announcement event; it’s happening for certain.

And with the media blowing up all Apple news, consumers are hyper-aware of this next-gen tablet. So of course the iPad 2 isn’t going to be a hot-seller right now. A newer model is just days away. 

2. RIM released a long-awaited upgrade. People have been anticipating OS 2.0 for months. The delayed system upgrade dramatically improved the device, and now that PlayBooks ship with it preinstalled, consumers waiting for the update before purchasing could finally buy the tablet.

3. The PlayBook is still selling for a whopping 60% off. Do you think it would have outsold the iPad if the iPad were 60% off, too? Or if the PlayBook was back up to $500? The answer to both is a resounding “no.”

This incredibly steep discount makes the PlayBook an enticing option for budget-minded consumers, particularly Canadians, who don’t have access to Amazon’s Kindle Fire—which brings me to my final point.

4. RIM is Canadian. There remains lingering patriotism, despite the company’s follies. Is the PlayBook outselling Apple’s tablet in America, or anywhere else that both devices are available? Again, the answer is no.

I don’t even dislike the PlayBook. It’s my favourite 7-inch tablet, actually. But let’s face the facts: in the last quarter, Apple tablets outsold RIM tablets by a ratio of 100 to one—a staggering 15 million iPads versus a paltry 150,000 PlayBooks. The iPad remains, definitively, the most-demanded tablet across the globe.

This is not a comeback by RIM. It’s just a local, one-off event triggered by some favourable timing for RIM while it’s running an unprofitable promotion (the discounts have cost RIM well over $500 million by now, while the iPad is wonderfully profitable).

When the PlayBook outsells the iPad 3, that will be a comeback. But we should be able to predict this in advance—just look for Hell to freeze over.