Research In Motion gives sysadmins a free PlayBook

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion's desperation to make a success of its PlayBook tablet is becoming all too evident, as it starts giving them away for free to system administrators.

Before you get too excited, there's a bit of a catch: to get your hands on the BBX-based PlayBooks, you need agree to make the move to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 for your communications infrastructure - and that doesn't come cheap - by the 31st of December.

The fact that RIM is giving the tablets away at all, however, demonstrates just how badly the company got its launch strategy wrong. With a custom-built operating system - based on the popular real-time OS QNX - compatibility with the company's existing messaging infrastructure was poor, and a high price saw many ignore the device in favour of budget Android tablets or Apple's premium iPad line.

Since is somewhat disastrous launch, RIM has repeatedly slashed the price of the PlayBook in an attempt to generate interest - with the most recent discount for the US market dropping the 16GB model to just $199 in an attempt to beat Amazon's cut-price Kindle Fire tablet, from its $500 launch price.

Sadly, indications are that it simply isn't working. While Amazon and Apple can expect to see bumper sales of their respective tablets this Christmas, times are looking hard for RIM's attempt to break into a fiercely competitive market.