Following Sprint’s confirmation that it has chosen not to move forward in releasing a 4G WiMAX-enabled version of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, RIM said it has decided to focus instead on LTE. “RIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE,” RIM said in an emailed statement on Friday. “We remain excited and committed to delivering innovative and powerful 4G tablets to the US market together with our carrier partners. Testing of BlackBerry 4G PlayBook models is already underway and we plan to enter labs for network certifications in the US and other international markets this fall.”
Sprint has abandoned its plans to launch a version of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with an embedded 4G WiMAX radio. The nation’s No. 3 wireless carrier cited a lack of demand among business customers as its reasoning for the cancellation, The Wall Street Journal reports. “It’s an interesting concept, it just hasn’t caught on with business customers as much as they would like,” said president of Sprint’s business markets group, Paget Alves. “There are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer.” Sprint announced in January that it would release a 4G BlackBerry PlayBook sometime this summer, and a Sprint spokesperson told The Journal that the decision to not release the 4G PlayBook will have no impact on the carrier’s relationship with RIM.
Research In Motion Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on Thursday revealed that the 4G versions of RIM’s PlayBook tablets will not launch this summer, as the company had previously announced. The delays were mentioned in passing as Lazaridis mentioned how excited he was to be launching 4G PlayBook models this fall. RIM had previously stated that three 4G versions of its PlayBook — an LTE model for Verizon Wireless, a WiMAX model for Sprint, and an HSPA+ model for AT&T — would launch this summer. RIM also noted that the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 / 9930 would be delayed until the end of August. Like the 4G PlayBooks, RIM has said previously that the new Bold would launch this summer.
A new rumor on Tuesday suggests that RIM is currently developing a version of its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook compatible with AT&T’s 3G cellular data networks. CIO’s Mobile Workhorse blog cites a trusted source in reporting that AT&T’s version of the PlayBook tablet will launch in late March or early April. The same source states that an LTE version will follow soon after the release of the 3G version. Only two BlackBerry PlayBook models have been announced by RIM so far — a Wi-Fi-only version that will launch this quarter and a 4G WiMAX-enabled model that will become available from Sprint some time this summer. RIM is on target to begin taking orders for the Wi-Fi version of its tablet sometime in February according to the report, and orders will be filled sometime in March. More →