RIM CEO promises LTE PlayBook, dishes on licensing BlackBerry 10

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) CEO Thorsten Heins confirmed that a long-awaited LTE-capable PlayBook tablet will hit the market "later this year," but he declined to provide more specifics.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins


In an hour-long news conference with reporters at RIM's BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla., Heins touched on several key issues for the company, including the possibility of licensing BlackBerry 10 to other companies, the upgrade path for BlackBerry customers and RIM's philosophy on keyboards.

In March RIM sent PlayBook versions supporting HSPA+ and LTE networks through the FCC's device certification process. According to documents, RIM sent to the FCC several PlayBooks with various cellular capabilities, including several versions supporting HSPA+ networks as well as variants of LTE being supported by AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). The device went on sale last year with only Wi-Fi connectivity and sales never took off, though RIM has said it remains committed to the tablet market. 

Heins, who formally unveiled a preview of BlackBerry 10 on Tuesday, said that RIM investigating licensing BlackBerry 10 for both smartphones and "mobile computing." He said that RIM first needs to perfect BlackBerry 10 internally before engaging with others on licensing deals. However, he also indicated RIM may be interested in breaking the market for BlackBerry devices into segments. "Most of" RIM's thoughts on licensing are "centered around the segmentation of BlackBerry," Heins said, according to The Verge, with the central question being: "How will we position BlackBerry 10 in those different segments?" 

"Blackberry 10 is a high-end performing mobile computing platform," Heins said. "There's certain elements in such a platform that define your cost position. We need to work on this and it goes back to the question that we had before, where is the right entry point for licensing partnerships?"

Heins also confirmed that RIM will not upgrade phones running the current BlackBerry 7 operating system to its forthcoming BlackBerry 10. He said the company will "continue to innovate on the [BB 7] platform" and that RIM is still "onboarding people from feature phones to smartphones," indicating that RIM may reserve BlackBerry 7 for lower-end devices while BlackBerry 10 becomes its premier high-end platform.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate The Verge article

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