By Patrick Avenell (Follow me on Twitter)

SYDNEY, NSW: Research In Motion has played it safe with its price recommendation for the BlackBerry PlayBook, with a suggested retail price of RRP $579 for 16GB Wi-Fi model, which will be sold through launch partner Harvey Norman from Monday 20 June 2011.

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Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will also be selling the PlayBook, though their pricing has not yet been announced.

With the 32GB Wi-Fi PlayBook at RRP $689 and the 64GB model at RRP $799, these prices are only slightly higher than the US prices, which were at launch $500, $600 and $700. Pricing in Australia is traditionally higher than in the United States due to standard of living and economies of scale. The use of US pricing as a guide to RIM's structure in Australia appears nebulous, however, with these three prices exactly matching the Wi-Fi only Apple iPad 2 prices for those capacities

Click here to read our first impressions of the BlackBerry PlayBook

Click here to read our full review of the BlackBerry PlayBook

The decision to sell this professional and business-skewed tablet through a retail chain is new direction for Research In Motion, which has previously focused on the carrier and business channels for its successful BlackBerry mobile handset products. To encourage users to visit Harvey Norman stores and experience the product, RIM is running marketing campaign in conjunction with its sponsorship of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Although Harvey Norman is the official launch partner, this period of exclusivity may be short lived, with a RIM spokesperson saying the Canadian company is “working with other retailers and with carriers on their launch plans for the BlackBerry PlayBook”.

When asked if RIM would be releasing a 3G model in Australia, a spokesperson said that confirmation of release dates and times could not be given.