Rumor Mill: Sprint delaying BlackBerry PlayBook launch

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) may be delaying the launch of Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. According to Electronista, an internal document was circulated to dealers that said that the PlayBook's original launch date was April 19 but that was later pushed back to May 8 and now has been postponed indefinitely. Dealers are advised to hold onto any marketing materials until the devices arrive in the stores.

RIM blackBerry Playbook news

Click here for a look at the history of the PlayBook.

However, Sprint spokesman Mark Elliott told FierceWireless that Sprint has not yet announced an availability date for the Wi-Fi version of the BlackBerry PlayBook. The company also has said it will launch a 4G version of the PlayBook this summer, but has not provided a specific date.  

Interestingly, the Electronista article refers to a CDMA-version of the PlayBook, which it said was supposed to arrive this spring. Sprint has never announced a CDMA version of the device. Instead the company always refers to the PlayBook as a 4G device, which implies it will be a WiMAX version.

Sprint was the first U.S. operator to announce it will carry the BlackBerry PlayBook. The company said in January the device would go on sale through the operator this summer.  

RIM is currently selling a Wi-Fi-only version of the PlayBook tablet through AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) for a base price of $499. However AT&T customers are contending with issues related to the product: AT&T is not yet allowing subscribers to download the BlackBerry Bridge software needed to establish a connection between a BlackBerry device and the tablet; the connection is needed for users to view email on the tablet, since it does not ship with a native email client. AT&T is still testing the software, and the carrier has not decided whether to charge customers for the Bridge service, since it is similar to tethering a phone to a laptop.

Separately, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is remaining noncommittal about selling the PlayBook. "We're still evaluating the PlayBook and haven't made a decision on whether we're going to distribute it," Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told the Wall Street Journal last month.

In other PlayBook news, Boy Genius Report reported RIM is planning to release a version of the gadget with a 10-inch screen this fall.

For more:
- see this BGR article
- see this Electronista article

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