In light of recent rumors that U.S. wireless carrier Sprint will begin selling a Wi-Fi-only version of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet on June 5, I decided to follow up with Sprint about the 4G cellular version of the PlayBook the company announced back in January at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
At that time, Sprint said it was working on a 4G WiMax version of the BlackBerry PlayBook, that the device will be “the first BlackBerry PlayBook model to include wide area wireless connectivity,” and that it would be released “in the summer.”
As expected, Sprint didn’t really share any new information when it responded to my inquiry this morning, but two things in Sprint Communications Manager of Wireless Devices Mark Elliott’s answer caught my eye. From Elliott:
“At CES, Sprint did announce BlackBerry 4G PlayBook would be coming to Sprint. The BlackBerry 4G PlayBook tablet is under development and will be available later this year. We will have more details to share closer to launch.”
First of all, Sprint and RIM are still working on the 4G PlayBook, and they haven’t ceased development on the device. That’s good news for Sprint customers holding off on buying a Wi-Fi PlayBook so they can get their hands on a cellular version. However, Elliott didn’t say the device will be available “this summer” as was repeatedly stated in the company’s 4G PlayBook press release. Instead, he said the 4G WiMax PlayBook will be released “later this year,” which could mean any time in 2011. And that’s a big difference than a summer 2011 release.
If the expected summer launch of Sprint’s 4G PlayBook has been bumped or delayed, it shouldn’t really come as any surprise, since Sprint also said in January that it hoped to start selling Wi-Fi-only PlayBooks in March, which never happened. In fact, a new rumor suggests that RIM will beginning to offer Wi-Fi PlayBooks on June 5, so the company is at least a couple of months behind schedule there, as well.
Verizon Wireless is also expected to get a 4G, LTE edition of the BlackBerry PlayBook. And AT&T should also release an HSPA+ version. But few official details on either of these devices have been released to date, and it’s unclear whether or not either tablet will be released this year, so Sprint could still be first to market with its 4G PlayBook.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.