updated 05:55 pm EDT, Fri August 12, 2011
RIM sidesteps WiMAX PlayBook fallout
RIM spun Sprint's decision to back away from a 4G BlackBerry PlayBook by saying its attention had moved elsewhere. In a statement given to Electronista and others, the company said it had "decided to prioritize and focus" on the already in-progress LTE-equipped PlayBook. The company hinted that it still had carrier deals in the US and wasn't delaying cellular PlayBooks further beyond the fall target.
"We remain excited and committed to delivering innovative and powerful 4G tablets to the US market together with our carrier partners," RIM said. "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."
If only LTE PlayBooks are available, the deal would mostly limit the carrier choices to AT&T and Verizon. AT&T is taking its LTE network live in the summer and is planning most of its device strategy for late this year. Verizon is the most probable given its more established and larger network, even when factoring in previous doubts.
RIM has been promising cellular-capable PlayBooks since the start of 2011 but has had trouble getting definite commitments. Delays in getting native e-mail support as well as low PlayBook sales relative to iPad and even Android tablets have reduced the motivation for carriers to endorse the tablets themselves. PlayBooks with 3G and 4G could still ship but would have to be treated like any other unlocked device bought outside the carrier.