RIM attempts tablet re-entry with 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

RIM attempts tablet re-entry with 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

Summary: Sorry for the pessimism, folks, but RIM's hopes that the addition of LTE will bring the PlayBook tablet back from the dead are about as farfetched as the Easter bunny winning the U.S. election this year.

TOPICS: BlackBerry, 4G, Tablets

RIM has unveiled a 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, adding high-speed wireless data to its existing 7-inch QNX-powered tablet.

The ailing smartphone maker said the much-rumored tablet will debut in Canada on August 9, and will "be available in the coming months" in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

RIM describes the tablet as "enterprise ready," boasting that it can be managed using BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, while BlackBerry Balance allows the tablet to be used for both work and personal purposes.

Apart from the LTE updates, which will automatically connect to HSPA+ when LTE is not available, the new PlayBook is much the same as the old PlayBook. It features the same 7-inch 1024 x 600 pixel touchscreen, an updated 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the same 3 megapixel forward-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, and the exact same BlackBerry Tablet OS, developed by QNX.

The 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will come with 32GB of memory storage.

RIM has not disclosed a price for the 4G LTE PlayBook, and that could be a problem. The original PlayBook debuted at $499 for the 16GB model (32GB for $599 and 64GB for $699), but RIM was soon forced to offer a three for two deal before later slashing the price to $299.

However, despite lukewarm sales, this time last year the PlayBook remained one of the biggest tablet players outside of Apple's iPad. Since then, RIM's tablet has been eclipsed by the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the Android 'Jelly Bean'-powered Nexus 7.

If RIM found the market tough back when it released the original PlayBook, the proliferation of $199 tablets have made things a lot tougher.

Oh, and there's that small matter of Apple having sold some 85 million iPads. But don't let that worry you too much, RIM. 

Given that RIM found it nigh on impossible to sell the original PlayBook -- or much else lately, if I am being completely honest -- I am left wondering what new secret sauce the company has planned for the update. I suspect that if RIM can't get the pricing right -- around the $350 mark -- then this update will sink into obscurity much like the original tablet did, LTE or not.

Image source: RIM

Topics: BlackBerry, 4G, Tablets

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  • I think RIM is targetting enterprise buyers, not consumer buyers

    They'll somehow survive. There are enough companies that won't buy into the BYOD trend and would elect to shove an enterprise friendly device through every employee's throats. Though they'd better change the name of the product to RIM Workbook. The Playbook is an obvious misnomer.
    • Go Playbook

      Playbook was never a misnomer. I own one and my wife, who has an iPad2 envies me for it.
      It's small and easy to carry with you, the screen is awesome, the OS is awesome, battery life is awesome, the webbrowser is awesome and not crippled by lack of Flash. You get some excellent games with it for free too, and you can get your stuff on it without needing a slow, bloated application. People that say it's not good for 'fun' simply have never had one. Playbook + LTE will make an excellent combination and I am certainly going to buy the second gen one, although admittedly I might wait a couple of months because FUD does influence buyers and if it's not set at the right price it's probably not going to sell . And therfor it's going to be ready for my greedy hands at half the price only a few months down the road. Sorry Rim, I do think you can't win, but you do deserve better than what you're getting.
      • Hilarious! You love the product but you want it for half price...

        Can't be that wonderful, and that's why they haven't sold well.
        • Hilarious! You love the product but you want it for half price...

          > Hilarious! You love the product but you want it for half price...

          No , I want it. Period. But why would I pay full prize if, thanks to clueless ignorami and fanboys, I can get it at half price just a couple of months later!
          Remember, I already HAVE a Playbook that I love and use all the time, the extra functionality of the new one is great but not worth full prize to somebody that already owns one.
      • freelance engineer

        well even at half price hmmmm ill have to think hard about that one. its just that ipad seems so advanced. well if it sell for below half price well then mayb ill get my kid one he is going to be in grade 2 next year (:
        Dave Hargraves
    • RIM attempts tablet re-entry...

      "Though they'd better change the name of the product to RIM Workbook. The Playbook is an obvious misnomer."
      fear of litigation at the tune of $500 million or more to use workbook... but nice professional name though for an enterprise device.
      • freelance engineer

        i agree kc6 Rim said in one report that we sell comercial grade hardware and are not toys so why would they call their tablet playbook lol
        Dave Hargraves
    • Enterprise! Enterprise! Enterprise!

      If RIM delivers a really great, seamless solution for managing and deploying these things for their existing enterprise customers, I don't think the price will matter all that much. If IT and the CIO are really longing for the security of their Blackberry infrastructure in the tablet world, the device cost isn't going to matter too much.
      • freelance engineer

        they use the name Enterprise so they device looks smart well sorry to say apple and android driven devices are into the bus.world big time and more advanced i believe
        Dave Hargraves
    • Of course they are ...

      ... but I don't think there are enough enterprise buyers left to make a difference. We adopted BYOD three years ago and our BES usage has dropped 90%.
      M Wagner
  • CPU is 1.5Ghz dual core, not 1Ghz

    Specs here:

  • What the heck is RIM doing...

    ...trying to resuscitate a dead product line when they have much more urgent things to do like, say, saving their company from the brink of oblivion?

    Adding a 4G LTE radio to the Playbook is nothing compared to their critical task at hand: refining the Blackberry 10 and pushing it to the market with a viable app ecosystem to support it. Had they focused all their dwindling resources on the latter, perhaps they would have a better shot at staying afloat come next year.
    Tech watcher
    • freelance engineer

      i agree techwatcher they should have been focusing on their handsets first and os not a poor selling playbook sheesh.
      Dave Hargraves
  • Killer App

    I have looked a few times at retail stores for Playbook. It's nice but the playbook does not have many killer apps. One of those is Skype, I don't care if I have to pay a few bucks for Skype app, no Skype, no deal my friend.
  • Did you expect RIM to roll over and play dead?

    This has most likely been in the works for a while and could give them a small bounce. They still have a small loyal core. Course they still need to down size and retool or sell the patents to break even.
  • Maybe once this FAILS in Canada they'll spare us in the rest of the world.

    Seriously how lame is this? Maybe when W8 was 2 years away and there was no surface. No enterprise wants RIM now. They are all waiting for W8. Even those with BB are actively seeking alternate solutions to rid themselves of RIM entirely. And no consumer is going to want this either. If they try really hard they may sell a handful in India if the price it at $69. Promoting from within appears to be the worst thing RIM could have done.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Lame.

      About as lame as you. Get off your highhorse.
  • Carrier subsidy?

    A good play would be $99 - $150 with 2yr carrier contract.

    As PB / BB10 gets market share the Apps will come. Developers want to get a ROI as well know RIM isn't about to close shop.

    I use my Playbook all the time and outside of the lack of key Apps it's a solid little tablet.
    • Had high hopes for the Playbook

      but I can't champion it anymore. It was GREAT prior to the most recent update. The web browser stutters, it locks up (particularly on the logon screen) and more importantly, there aren't enough apps to hold on to it over other options on the market. Still great for reading books and gestures are the bomb.

      I was one of those Google jerked around with delivery on the Nexus 7, so I let them eat it and bought an Asus Transformer TF300. Granted, it's 10" but that's not why I rarely use my Playbook. It has everything I need to be productive as well as allow me to have fun (read: apps like Netflix among others).

      And before anyone rips me about how many apps Playbook has, I know that already. I wrote 2 of them which is how I got my (free) Playbook in the first place. If they can convince the bigger developers to come on board, my opinion might change. I will say that I recommend a Playbook over an iPad of any size because - while it isn't as flexible as Android - it allows somewhat better organization than iPad.
  • Great

    I own A playbook and love it. It is the best 7" tablet on the market it might not have all the apps as the others. But I don't use mine as A toy, for surfing the net and running my business it cant be beat. My wife bought A Nexus 7, come on people really, what A cheap made pile of..... her old Nook was A better tablet. Alot better made. I think you all get cought up in the WOW it is new it is cheap and best yet it has Jelly bean and it does all this cool stuff that I am never going to use. The i-pad, samsung, and blackberry are the only,Tablets worth the money and I will throw the Nook in there the fire is another cheap made pile.