Shares in BlackBerry maker Research In Motion slumped Thursday, despite the firm's denial of a report that it had halted production of its PlayBook tablet computer and cancelled additional tablet projects.

"Any suggestion that the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued is pure fiction," RIM spokesperson Marisa Conway told CBC News.

"RIM remains highly committed to the tablet market."

RIM shares closed down 70 cents, or 3.1 per cent, at $21.97 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.


RIM described any suggestion that it was discontinuing its BlackBerry PlayBook as ‘pure fiction.’ (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

They have lost 69 per cent of their value since reaching their 52-week high in February.

"We believe RIM has stopped production of its PlayBook and is actively considering exiting the tablet market," John Vihn, an analyst with Collins Stewart, wrote in a commentary.

Vihn’s report came a week after Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for RIM, laid off about 1,000 workers at a factory that produces the PlayBook, among other products. It did not comment on whether the cuts came at the RIM production line.

It followed by one day Amazon's announcement of new competition for the PlayBook, unveiling its new Fire tablet, and amid continuing stiff competition from Apple's iPad and iPad2.


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RIM shipped only about 200,000 PlayBooks in its most recent quarter, about half of what analysts had been expecting and below RIM's own expectations.

But the company's senior executives told analysts that RIM was preparing to roll out a major new version of the PlayBook's operating system, with details to be revealed at a developer conference in mid-October.

Another executive leaves

Some Canadian retailers have slashed the prices of the PlayBook as the company is expected to bring out a new version of the tablet computer's operating system.

Best Buy, Future Shop and Staples cut the price of all three versions of the PlayBook by $100.

It started retailing in April with list prices at $499, $599 and $699 depending on the model, which had between 16 GB and 64 GB of memory.

At the same time, RIM announced another of its executives is resigning.

Tyler Lessard, the senior vice-president for global alliances and developer relations, "is moving on to pursue other interests," RIM said in a statement.

A director of developer relations, Mike Kirkup, resigned in August and RIM's marketing chief, Keith Pardy, departed in March, followed later by two others in the marketing area. Chief operating officer Don Morrison left in July after taking a medical leave.

With files from The Canadian Press