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4G PlayBook Tablet Sales Cancelled By Sprint Nextel

August 15, 2011

Sprint Nextel announced on Friday that they have nixed plans to sell a 4G version of the Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer, CNET and Los Angeles Times reported.

“We apologize for any inconvenience, but the BlackBerry 4G PlayBook Tablet that was announced in January for summer availability will no longer be coming to the Sprint network,” the company said in an August 12 statement, according to CNET’s Brooke Crothers.

The decision to pull the plug on the Sprint-powered WiMax PlayBook 4G was said to be a “mutual decision” between the two companies. Sprint Nextel will continue to sell a Wi-Fi version of the seven-inch tablet, according to reports, while RIM will pursue other options.

In a statement printed by the Times, RIM officials said that they had “decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE” networks, which are used by AT&T and Verizon.

“We remain excited and committed to delivering innovative and powerful 4G tablets to the US market together with our carrier partners,” the statement added. “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.”

“RIM launched the PlayBook in April with the aim of luring new customers as sales of BlackBerry smartphones grew more slowly,” Greg Bensinger of the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. “Since then, RIM has had to contend with tepid reviews, a small recall and an inability for it to connect to some e-mail accounts.”

“RIM reported it shipped 500,000 Wi-Fi-only PlayBooks in its fiscal 2012 first quarter in North America. By contrast, Apple said it sold 9.3 million iPads in the June-ended quarter, and Motorola recorded 440,000 deliveries of its Xoom tablet,” Bensinger added.

Likewise, the L.A. Times reports that an update that would allow the device to run apps designed for Google’s Android operating system, which had been promised by RIM months ago, has yet to be delivered by the company.

In May, the company was forced to recall approximately 1,000 PlayBooks, due to a software glitch that prevented users from getting setting-up their newly purchased tablets. RIM was also forced to cut 2,000 jobs last month following a 12-percent decrease in revenue during the fiscal quarter ending in June.

According to Crothers, during that June earnings announcement, RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said that the “PlayBook launch did not go as smoothly as planned.”

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