Following up from what can only be described as a lousy year for RIM, the Canadian firm has kicked off 2012 with a new round of BlackBerry PlayBook discounts. From now until February 4, or until inventory runs out, all models of the beleaguered tablet will cost $299 in the U.S. Previous prices were $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB so you'd be getting up to $400 off if you can get a hold of the larger model.

We should note that while this is the lowest price the company has ever sold the 32GB and 64GB versions of the device for, holiday sales saw the 16GB PlayBook fall to as low as $199.

The company had high expectations for the PlayBook but it just wasn't meant to be. RIM reportedly shipped 500,000 tablets in the first quarter it was available, 250,000 more the following quarter and only 150,000 in the next. That is a far cry from the 1 million units the company had estimated to ship in January. The latest move comes as the company attempts to offset a recent $485 million charge against revenues on unsold stock.

But even at the new price point the BlackBerry maker may face some hurdles in getting the PlayBook into the hands of consumers. Not only are a flood of new tablet announcements expected at CES by the end of this week, but Amazon's Kindle Fire has proven to be a sales hit at $200, and despite being a less technically powerful device it provides access to a wider range of Amazon content and apps.