The change was first announced in a statement by Sprint on Friday. "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," read the statement. "This was a mutual decision between Sprint and RIM."
A Sprint executive told the Wall Street Journal that the PlayBook is "an interesting concept, it just hasn't caught on with business customers as much as they would like...there are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer."
On the other hand, a later statement emailed by RIM seems to indicate that the deciding factor was a lack of enthusiasm in Sprint's 4G WiMax network compared to the emerging LTE technology. "RIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE," read the statement. "We remain excited and committed to delivering innovative and powerful 4G tablets to the US market together with our carrier partners. 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."
Research in Motion's PlayBook tablet is currently available at Sprint with a Wi-Fi-only version, and the company representatives were quick to point out that a 4G wireless hot spot device could be paired with the Wi-Fi version for "more flexibility".
The news likely comes as yet another setback for the beleaguered RIM, as the company struggles to slow the rapid decline of share price, sales, and market share. Ever since the beginning of the year, when Android toppled the BlackBerry from its nearly decade-long dominance of the smartphone market, RIM has been losing considerable customer and investor interest and confidence.
Currently, the company is dealing with layoffs, missed revenue targets, and the loss of top executives -- and a public relations worry in the form of repeated media reports of BlackBerry use by those involved in the string of violent criminal riots in the United Kingdom over the past week. Even RIMs attempts to assist law enforcement in the matter have earned enemies; hacker collective Team Poison has vowed to expose RIM employees' personal information if the company turns over any archived data to police.
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