Following our exclusive report from this past Friday, Sprint has added preliminary information surrounding the BlackBerry 4G PlayBook to its website. A WiMAX-enabled version of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be among several devices shown off by Sprint at this year’s CTIA Wireless conference, which kicks off on Tuesday. Sprint announced earlier that it would launch a 4G version of RIM’s first tablet, and this is the first time the device has appeared on the carrier’s website. Interested subscribers can enter their email address to be notified when more information surrounding the tablet becomes available, but we’re hoping additional details are provided at Sprint’s CTIA press event tomorrow, which BGR will be covering live. More →
We met up with RIM a few days back in New York City to once again get some hands-on time with the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook, and we definitely liked what we saw. While the OS the PlayBook was running, we’re told, was from around December, the device performed very swiftly and webpages like BGR.com loaded up with ease. We noticed some elements of the site that didn’t load properly but we’ll chalk that up to the build the tablet was running being pretty old. Things like portrait mode and notifications on the system bar were also not working on the unit we tested, so we can’t comment too much on those. We’ve really enjoyed using the PlayBook so far and can’t wait until we get our hands on a review unit. In the mean time, we hope another BGR hands-on will tide you over until that magical April 10th release date. Hit the break for our video, complete with commentary — alright? More →
We have been told by multiple sources that RIM’s very first tablet will be launching on April 10th in retail locations. Additionally, we’re told the OS goes GM (gold master) on March 31st and that when you boot up the device right out of the box, you’ll be prompted to upgrade to a newer version of the OS. We’ll have another hands-on coming up shortly but in the meantime, let us know if you plan to snag a PlayBook next month in the comments below, alright?
BGR exclusively reported in January that Research in Motion was hard at work trying to add support for Android applications to the BlackBerry PlayBook and its QNX-based OS. The move would be a major one, as access to the second-largest mobile development ecosystem would give RIM’s new platform a huge jump in the all-important app game. Since our initial exclusive report, we’ve seen strikingly similar claims emerge as well as purported news of an Android app running on multiple BlackBerry smartphones. Now, a RIM representative has apparently been caught on video saying “we will also support Android apps when we release the Dalvik engine on top of QNX,” while showing off a PlayBook. Oops. The newly uncovered video was filmed at Mobile World Congress earlier this month and while we can’t quite call it an official confirmation from RIM, it certainly seems to substantiate our report. Though the RIM representative mentioned Dalvik, conflicting reports have stated that RIM won’t end up using the Dalvik engine, but rather a different option. The PlayBook video can be found after the jump, with the quote in question coming shortly after the 0:14 mark. More →
Mobile app developer ShopSavvy reports that its Android application has recently been tested on multiple BlackBerry devices. BGR exclusively reported last month that RIM may be working on a solution that would allow Android apps to run on its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Now, it appears as though RIM may be doing more extensive testing with Android apps that may move beyond the PlayBook tablet or even the QNX platform. According to ShapSavvy’s analytics data, as tracked by Flurry, the following devices accessed its servers while running the ShopSavvy app for Android:
- BlackBerry 8300 ran ShopSavvy on January 31, 2011
- BlackBerry 8600 ran ShopSavvy on January 17 and 24, 2011
- BlackBerry 8520 ran ShopSavvy on February 7, 2011
We’re not sure why these old devices would be used for testing, but we have a feeling this picture will get a bit clearer in the coming weeks and months. Also of note: according to geographic data contained within the logs, ShopSavvy says these hits came from Waterloo, Ontario in Canada — where RIM is headquartered. More →
RIM might have the enterprise market squarely in its sights with the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, but the sleek device is hardly all business. At Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, recent RIM acquisition The Astonishing Tribe was on hand to show off two applications built to demo some of the QNX-powered PlayBook’s capabilities. And as can only be expected from TAT-born apps, they’re stunning. The first, Scrapbook, is a scrapbooking app with a playful look and some terrific 3D UI effects. The second, Aura, allows users to control the weather and features some nifty accelerometer-controlled physics. Hit the break for two video demonstrations. More →
Cell phone maker Research In Motion has yet to reveal pricing or specific release dates for the first two versions of it’s initial tablet offering, but that apparently won’t stop the company from confirming a third and a fourth version of the device. RIM on Monday revealed plans to release an LTE-compatible BlackBerry PlayBook as well as a 3G model that will work with HSPA+ networks. “The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is already being widely recognized for its superior performance, rich web experience, enterprise readiness and deep support for web standards and open development tools,” RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in a statement. “We are now building on the BlackBerry PlayBook’s many advantages with support for additional 4G networks that will allow enhanced business opportunities for carriers and developers and unparalleled mobile experiences for users.” Information surrounding these newly-announced variants of the PlayBook jibes with a report from last month stating RIM would build an LTE version of its tablet for Verizon Wireless and a 3G version of the PlayBook for AT&T’s HSPA+ network. RIM has not confirmed that Verizon Wireless and AT&T would be carrier partners for the device, however, stating only that the LTE and HSPA+ versions of the PlayBook will launch in the second half of 2011. More →
A series of what are purported to be leaked internal slides from RIM may reveal details surrounding various OEM BlackBerry PlayBook accessories. While the authenticity of the slides obtained by enthusiast blog Fommy has not been confirmed, they may give us our first glimpse as a variety of OEM accessories for the BlackBerry PlayBook, as well as pricing details and some projected availability dates. The slides show a variety of cases ranging in price from a $29.99 neoprene sleeve to a $59.99 book-style leather binder. Also seen on the slides is a $49 BlackBerry music gateway, a $99 Bluetooth keyboard and a $79.99 charging dock that props the PlayBook up while recharging the battery. The aforementioned music gateway and Bluetooth keyboard show initial shipment dates in July of this year — potentially up to four months after the Wi-Fi-only version of the PlayBook launches. The rest of the accessories do not show projected ship dates. Hit the break for two more purported slides. More →
Wedge Partners principal Brian Blair on Tuesday issued a note to clients that called RIM’s upcoming virgin tablet offering “dead on arrival.” RIM is set to debut the BlackBerry PlayBook next month and opinions of press, bloggers and analysts have been very polarized thus far. Some think the PlayBook will be well received by the enterprise market, projecting that RIM could sell as many as 6 million units in the PlayBook’s first year of availability. Others, however, are not so optimistic. “[The BlackBerry PlayBook] will be sharply inferior to other tablets on the market and consumers won’t buy it,” Blair told CNBC when asked about his note to investors. “They are targeting it at enterprise but I believe very few will actually roll it out widely.” Blair says that the PlayBook’s need to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone in order for users to access email, contacts and the calendar is the biggest disappointment surrounding RIM’s upcoming tablet. He goes on to suggest that the PlayBook could potentially end up costing RIM “hundreds of millions of dollars” in “product development, production and related rollout and marketing costs.” More →
Rumors of possible delays may be further quashed on Friday as industry watcher DigiTimes reports that production of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is now in full swing. Quanta, the China-based manufacturer charged with building the BlackBerry tablets, is said to have ramped up production ahead of the device’s anticipated release in March. A pace of 150,000 to 200,000 units per month has reportedly been reached, and shipments could be ready as soon as next month. Quanta is said to be building PlayBook tablets in its facilities in Taiwan, though the majority of its plants are located in mainland China. An earlier report from DigiTimes claims that RIM has 1 million BlackBerry PlayBook tablets on order in the first quarter of 2011. RIM plans to launch a Wi-Fi-only version of its PlayBook tablet in March, while 3G and 4G versions are expected later in the first half of this year. More →
In a note to investors Tuesday morning, RBC Capital Markets GM Mike Abramsky suggests that RIM may sell 6 million BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in the device’s first year of availability. In an independent survey of 1,100 consumers conducted after the Consumer Electronics Show in January, RBC found that 6% of respondents were likely to purchase the BlackBerry PlayBook once it comes available. This represents almost 50% of the interest shown in the iPad ahead of launch, according to a similar RBC survey. The firm’s data shows that the PlayBook is appealing to early adopters and power users, and key areas of interest compared to Apple’s iPad include the 7-inch form factor, impressive specs, multitasking capabilities, speed and power, the BlackBerry brand and the security features. As a result of the strong buying intentions revealed by its survey, RBC contends that the PlayBook could sell 4 million units in the 2011 calendar year and 6 million units in its first 12 months of availability. The firm’s new sales estimates are significantly higher than Wall Street’s consensus of 2-3 million units in the 2011 calendar year. RBC expects the Wi-Fi-only version of the BlackBerry PlayBook to launch in mid-March at a price point between $399 and $449, with 3G and 4G versions to follow this summer. The firm also reiterated its price target of $90 for RIM’s stock.
One of the biggest criticisms of RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook so far is the tablet’s need to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone in order to perform certain functions. Specifically, the PlayBook must be connected wirelessly to a BlackBerry smartphone in order to access PIM-related functions such as calendar, contacts and memos. The tablet also won’t be able to send or receive corporate email using its native email application without being tethered to a BlackBerry phone. “On its own, this is a great standalone tablet,” RIM’s senior product manager in charge of the PlayBook Ryan Bidan told Forbes in an interview. “This is not a device that is reliant on a BlackBerry.” Biden goes on to say that the PlayBook is a solid tablet “in its own right” and that it extends both the mobile and laptop experiences for users. Unfortunately, Biden fails to address critics’ complaints specifically, saying only that PIM functions indepenent of a tethered BlackBerry smartphone “will come as the platform evolves.” BGR went hands-on with the BlackBerry PlayBook in December and we previewed it on video again at CES earlier this month. More →