RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablets are rumored to be coming and going. As rumors swirled that the wrap-up of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry World would bring the introduction of a 10-inch BlackBerry PlayBook, another emerged that Sprint’s Code Division Multiple Access version of the 7-inch PlayBook has been delayed until further notice.
According to details in a Sprint “Dealer News” newsletter posted by BriefMobile, the PlayBook’s initial April 19 arrival date appeared to have been pushed to May 8, but it is now unknown.
“The launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet has been delayed for all Dealers,” states the document, which was posted to the site May 3. “The new launch date will be communicated as soon as it is available.”
The dealers are also encouraged to hold on to electronic security pedestals they may have purchased to display the devices, and to sit tight with the “updated BlackBerry PlayBook fact tags” they received until the tablet’s launch.
Sprint announced in January that it would be offering the “first BlackBerry PlayBook model to include wide-area wireless connectivity, featuring Sprint 4G to give customers download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.”
According to the BriefMobile report, it’s only the 3G version, which was due this spring, that’s delayed, not the 4G model that Sprint has promised for the summer.
As for RIM expanding its PlayBook lineup still further, Boy Genius Report reasoned in a May 4 blog post, “We have been told by multiple sources that RIM is planning on releasing its follow-up to the BlackBerry PlayBook around the holidays this year. That’s clearly less than a year from the April launch of the original PlayBook-and the 4G versions aren’t even out yet-but there is a key differentiating factor here…the screen size.”
BGR added that, while it was unconfirmed, it had heard that the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 won’t be launching until mid-August, at the earliest.
“Additionally, we were told that the rest of RIM’s 2011 lineup…won’t be announced until BlackBerry’s DevCon conference on October 18th,” the site reported. “Apparently, the higher-ups at RIM have been vocally unhappy about the ‘disproportionate’ reallocation of resources to the PlayBook away from the OS 7 lineup.”
Investors were also nervous about the balancing of RIM assets. Early guidance for the first quarter of its fiscal 2012 sent stock prices falling in late trading March 24, after the company said that its earnings would reflect an “increased level of investment in Research & Development and Sales and Marketing related to our tablet and platform initiatives.”
During the subsequent earnings call, RIM executives were upbeat about the sales figures they expected to see; the tablet debuted in 20,000-plus retail outlets, and so far they’re not disappointed, at least according to one report.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky, in an April 27 research note, said that that sales may have exceeded RIM’s expectations, and that the company may have increased its tablet orders from manufacturing partners by as much as 100 percent. One reason for this, according to the note, might be strong sales estimates, while another was the possible launch of a 4G-enabled PlayBook, which was pushed up to June.