RIM To Scrap PlayBook 2, Focus On Super-Phones

Research in Motion is halting development on its BlackBerry PlayBook 2, according to recent reports, choosing instead to focus on its “super-phones,” as the struggling company tries to rebound against surging competition.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s beefier phones are expected to feature dual-core chips and run on the PlayBook’s operating system, called “QNX” — the main component in its plan to catch up to Apple and Google.

RIM hoped to rush a release of the PlayBook 2 after wanted to release a second Blackberry PlayBook after lukewarm sales of the initial tablet in April, but its recent troubles — poor sales, diminishing market share and an exodus of app developers — have made resources scarce, impossible to continue production on both tablets and smartphones.

So instead, RIM is laying off 200 workers and regrouping.

The company fell on tough times partly due to difficulties in keeping up with Apple and Google, leading to several key executives departures. Keith Pardy, one of the company’s most respected marketing executives left RIM in February, and vice president of digital marketing Brian Wallace jumped ship for Samsung earlier this month.

Critics, which have called the current BlackBerry OS sluggish and outdated, say RIM’s stale platform and less than spectacular PlayBook performance led the company to a poor second quarter.

With no new software planned for its phones, there is little evidence to suggest a turnaround may come sooner than later. Focusing on a product refresh may help RIM gain some lost ground, but the fast pace of the mobile market may find the company still struggling to keep up.

Still, RIM is banking on QNX to breathe new life into its smartphones. But QNX is the same operating system that powers the failing PlayBook, and developers have stated they won’t develop for the OS until RIM proves it can be successful.

In tough times, RIM has sharpened its focus to smartphones, planning to release its first super-phones early next year. But with a new iPhone and several Android devices due out before then, RIM’s last ditch effort may come up short.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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