LTE-Enabled PlayBook’s Latest Launch Date: “Later This Year”

Published on May 3, 2012
by John Paczkowski

First promised well over a year ago, the LTE version of Research In Motion’s PlayBook has, like so many of the company’s products, been delayed to the point of disinterest. But the device is still top of mind at RIM, and is evidently headed down the company’s product pipeline.

During a media briefing at BlackBerry World this week, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told attendees to expect a 4G LTE-enabled PlayBook “later this year.” He provided no details beyond that, revealing nothing about potential carriers, specs or pricing.

So, for now, we have only RIM’s word that the device is coming relatively soon. Which is encouraging and somewhat dubious at the same time. Remember, RIM first announced plans to release a 4G version of the PlayBook in January of 2011, promising to deliver it that summer.

In June, former RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis reiterated that plan, but pushed the launch date to the fall.

“We are now on a steady cadence of features and applications releases using our industry leading automatic wireless software update for PlayBook, including Facebook and video conferencing,” he said. “We are soon to release native email and BBM in our Android player later in the summer. To be followed in the fall with 4G PlayBooks for WiMAX, LTE and HSPA+.”

But that never happened. Sprint scrapped its WiMax PlayBook plan in August. And a promised LTE version of the device didn’t debut that fall, and hasn’t shown up since.

Of course, 2011 was a rocky year for RIM, and the company had more important things to worry about than the LTE PlayBook — like taking a $485 million writedown for discounting the first version of the device. Perhaps now, with its new leadership in place and BlackBerry 10 presumably on track for launch late this year, RIM finally has the focus and chops to deliver the device during the window Heins has promised.

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