Sprint will launch 4G tablet in 2011

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) plans to increase its selection of tablets next year and launch its first 4G tablet. The actions are part of a strategy to lure traveling enterprise users away from notebooks, a senior executive said.

"There's a lot of interest in tablets, a greater degree of interest and faster adoption than I've seen in any other product," Paget Alves, president of Sprint's business markets group, told Reuters in an interview. "I can't think of anything that's moved this quickly."

Alves also said in an interview with Forbes that the firm will launch a 4G tablet in 2011. He did not specify which manufacturer would make the tablet, but said that Sprint will soon sell tablets with operating systems beyond Google's Android. Sprint resells WiMAX service through Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) under the Sprint 4G moniker.

Currently, Sprint supports one tablet--Samsung's Android-powered GalaxyTab--but Alves expects to have a "broad portfolio" of tablets next year. He said he expect at least 12 different tablets to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, though he declined to say how many Sprint might eventually support. Samsung confirmed last week that it has sold over 1 million units of the GalaxyTab globally since it went on sale in October.

Interestingly, Alves said he has received interest from CIOs about Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) PlayBook tablet, which is expected to be released in the first quarter of next year. Alves declined to say whether Sprint will carry the PlayBook, and said it is too early to tell how the device will perform in the market.

Alves also told Reuters that he expects on-the-go business users who need to view documents and other media to transition away from notebooks to less expensive tablets.

There will be no shortage of tablets for Sprint to choose from next year, as handset makers vie to steal market share away from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. In addition to RIM, Motorola (NYSE:MOT), Hewlett-Packard, LG and others all plan to release tablets next year. Apple has so far sold over 7 million iPads since the device went on sale in April. Research firm IDC predicted last week that media tablet sales will reach 42 million in 2011.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Forbes article

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