Sprint, RIM to launch WiMAX-enabled PlayBook this summer

Not to be outdone by Verizon's numerous LTE announcements during this week's Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) announced it plans to launch Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet model that features WiMAX connectivity.

The BlackBerry 4G PlayBook will be the first BlackBerry PlayBook model to include wide area wireless connectivity, Sprint noted. So far RIM has only announced a WiFi version of the PlayBook, which is supposed to hit the market in the first quarter, likely in March. This new WiMAX model is expected to be available from Sprint in the summer.

Sprint said last month it plans to increase its selection of tablets in 2011 and launch its first 4G tablet. The actions are part of a strategy to lure traveling enterprise users away from notebooks, said Paget Alves, president of Sprint's business markets group. Alves told Reuters he had received interest from CIOs about RIM's PlayBook tablet.

Jeff McDowell, senior vice president of enterprise and platform marketing for RIM, said the vendor chose Sprint for its first 4G tablet because the operator has the largest 4G network at this point. The operator, which wholesales service from Clearwire, now offers service in 71 markets.

RIM's new PlayBook tablet sports a list of high-end specifications: 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, dual HD cameras (a 3-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-megapixel camera on the back), WiFi, Bluetooth and support for WebKit/HTML5 Internet technologies as well as Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR and more.

For more:
- see this release
- read this Reuters article

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