January 6, 2011

RIM Launching 4G Version Of Its ‘PlayBook’ Tablet

Research in Motion (RIM) announced plans to launch a 4G version of its new tablet this summer through Sprint Nextel, according to a recent Reuters report.

RIM provided a hands-on demonstration of the PlayBook on Wednesday, also saying that corporate interest in the new device was "massive."

"In large companies, they're talking deployment in the tens of thousands, right off the bat," Jeff McDowell, senior vice president of enterprise and platform marketing for RIM said during the announcement.

He said corporations are viewing the PlayBook as a tool essential for employees as a phone or a PC. 

"It's not something that they want to trickle in," he said.

McDowell said the companied decided to go with Sprint for its first high-speed wireless compatible tablet because it has the most "ubiquitous 4G network at this point."

The PlayBook weighs less than one pound and is less than 0.39 inches thick.

Its software allows for multi-tasking and features a rotating "carousel" that shows all the programs that the device is running.  A simple finger swipe up brings up the home screen, while a swipe out closes programs.

The device will be in competition with Apple's iPad. 

The iPad boasts a 9.7-inch screen and 10 hours of battery life.  McDowell did not specify how long the PlayBook's battery life would last. 

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has singled out the PlayBook for criticism by saying that seven-inch tablets will be "dead on arrival" when they hit the market.

McDowell said the new device by RIM will launch with a library featuring "thousands" of applications available for download.  He said RIM is looking at different screen sizes for the PlayBook, but did not specify exactly what sizes.

RIM has previously said it would sell the PlayBook for "under $500" but has not yet provided a specific price tag.

Analysts believe that RIM will sell fewer than 4 million PlayBooks in the 12 months after its launch.

Apple has sold over 7 million iPads since launching the device in April and analysts predict that the company sold as many as 6 million in the December quarter.


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