Not stopping PlayBook tablet, says BlackBerry

July 19th, 2011 - 9:46 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, July 19 (IANS) Shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) slipped to almost $25 Monday after rumours that the Canadian wireless giant is planning to discontinue its WiFi-only PlayBook tablet.

Launched in April, the first BlackBerry tablet has failed to make its presence felt in the tablet market, leave alone challenge the leader iPad from Apple. The RIM tablet sold just 500,000 units in the first six weeks of its launch, compared to one million iPads sold by Apple within the first month of its launch April 2010.

RIM Monday dismissed reports about stopping the production of the PlayBook, calling them “pure fiction”.

In a statement to the Canadian media, the Waterloo-based company said, “Over the past month, the PlayBook has launched in 16 additional markets around the world and further rollouts are planned for Southeast Asia, Western Europe and the Middle East in the coming weeks.”

The BlackBerry tablet has been trashed as it cannot connect to the internet over next-generation cellular network. A user cannot access email and content unless unless he is a BlackBerry subscriber because only then can he tether it to his smart phone via BlackBerry Bridge software.

RIM has promised 4G PlayBooks later this summer. Apple also offers three WiFi-only as well as WiFi-only+3G iPads.

WiFi-only models are good for consumers as cost less but carriers prefer to support cellular-equipped tablets as they earn additional revenue by selling monthly data plans.

Despite RIM’s denial about stopping production of the PlayBook, analysts here said RIM could possibly do that as it is now more focussed on its new line-up of BlackBerry smart phones to be unveiled later this year.

Its new smart phone line-up will run on the BlackBerry 7 Operating system unveiled last year. But from next year, all BlackBerry smart phones - as well as 4G tablets - will use the powerful QNX operating system.

The PlayBook tablet is the first RIM product to run on the QNX operating system.

At its last week’s annual shareholder meeting, BlackBerry co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie announced seven new BlackBerry smart phones in the coming months.

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