The Tech News Blog

August 2, 2012

RIM Unveils 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook

4G LTE PlayBook Research in Motion (RIM) on Thursday announced that the 4G LTE version of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will go on sale in its home country of Canada next week, with broader availability later.

The tablet, which offers built-in support for cellular networks and 32GB of storage, will be available in Canada starting on Aug. 9 from Bell, Rogers, and Telus. RIM promised that additional variants of the tablet supporting high-speed cellular networks will go on sale "in the coming months" through carriers in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. There's no word yet as to how much the device will cost.

"We're excited to bring customers the first BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with support for 4G LTE networks," David Smith, executive vice president of mobile computing at RIM, said in a statement.

RIM first announced plans to launch a 4G tablet more than a year ago, at CES 2011. Rumors swirled late last month that RIM was finally gearing up to launch the long-awaited slate.

The new model is similar hardware-wise to the original PlayBook, though RIM says it delivers faster performance thanks to that 4G LTE support. It runs the latest BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2 software and boasts a 7-inch display, front- and rear-facing HD video cameras, HDMI out, and stereo speakers.

The storied PlayBook first hit the market in April 2011, but by December RIM announced it would take a $485 million hit related to lackluster sales of the tablet. The company last month nixed the 16GB version and said it shipped 260,000 PlayBook tablets during the second quarter, down from more than 500,000 the previous quarter.

July 25, 2012

4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook Coming Next Week?

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is finally gearing up to launch its long-awaited 4G LTE-enabled PlayBook tablet, according to a new report.

As reported by Mobile Syrup, an internal document from Canadian mobile service Bell indicates that the 4G LTE-enabled tablet will launch on July 31 for $549.95. There's no word yet as to whether the new model will be released in the U.S.

RIM has long promised that a 4G LTE PlayBook was in the works, but has not yet announced a launch date. The company first announced plans to launch a 4G tablet more than a year ago, at CES 2011, but the device has yet to hit the market.

During an earnings call last month, CEO Thorsten Heins said the 4G LTE version of the PlayBook "is in the final stages of testing" and will launch "in the near future."

The new model will be similar hardware-wise to the original PlayBook, with the addition of a 4G LTE antenna. According to Mobile Syrup, the device will run OS 2.0 and boast a 7-inch display with a resolution of 1024 by 600, a 1.5-GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4800 mAh battery, and will only come in a 32GB version. It'll also have a 5-megapixel rear camera that shoots 1080p HD videos, as well as a 3-megapixel front-facing camera.

The storied PlayBook hit the market in April 2011, but by December RIM announced it would take a $485 million hit related to lackluster sales of the tablet. The company last month nixed the 16GB version and said it shipped 260,000 PlayBook tablets during the second quarter, down from more than 500,000 the previous quarter.

June 7, 2012

RIM Ditching 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

Research in Motion today confirmed that it will no longer produce the 16GB version of its troubled BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

The 16GB PlayBook, however, will still be available in stores while supplies last.

"We continue to remain committed to the tablet space and the 32GB and 64GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to be available from our distributors and retailers around the world," RIM said in a statement.

The announcement comes six months after RIM said it would take a $485 million hit related to lackluster sales of the PlayBook. At the time, RIM said the pre-tax provision was necessary because the company was sitting on a huge PlayBook inventory that it could only clear out by drastically slashing prices—in some cases from $500 to $199.

RIM announced the PlayBook in Sept. 2010. The 7-inch tablet included a 1024-by-600 multitouch capacitive display, designed around a dual-core, 1-GHz Cortex A9 microprocessor backed by a full gigabyte of RAM. The tablet ran QNX's mobile operating system, as well as HTML5 and Flash, with native hardware support to accelerate the apps further.

March 15, 2012

Report: RIM Confirms BB10 for PlayBook

Research in Motion will make its upcoming BB10 operating system available for its PlayBook tablet, Tech Radar reported Thursday. RIM, which released PlayBook 2.0 for the 7-inch device last month, is expected to launch the QNX-based BB10 OS alongside a new slate of BlackBerry smartphones sometime this fall.

"We've said publicly a number of times that our first BB10 handset will be available towards the end of 2012, and that's still firmly the case," Tech Radar quoted RIM vice president of product management Rob Orr as saying. "At some point after the launch we'll bring BB10 to our PlayBooks, yes."

PlayBook 2.0, which added native email and other features to RIM's tablet that were missing when the device was first released last year, is also a QNX-based operating system. RIM picked up the microkernel-based OS in its 2010 acquisition of QNX Software Systems and the Canadian smartphone maker has reportedly had a tougher go of integrating QNX with its in-house BlackBerry software platform for an array of mobile devices it plans to release.

February 28, 2012

RIM Touts PlayBook Apps, Actively Courting Bigger Players

BlackBerry PlayBook

BARCELONA - Research in Motion today touted its app eco-system and denied that recent delays and missteps deterred developers from investing in the platform.

"You always end up with people who jump in early and those who wait and see," Alec Saunders, RIM's head of developer relations, said during a press roundtable here at Mobile World Congress.

RIM finally took the wraps off its long-awaited BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 last week. Marty Mallick, vice president of global alliances and business development at RIM, said today that that the number of apps in BlackBerry App World have increased by the thousands since the launch of the updated OS. RIM is also seeing a "significant number of PlayBooks" coming online after the 2.0 release, he said.

The PlayBook hasn't exactly been a huge hit for RIM. In early December, the company announced a $485 million hit related to lackluster sales of the tablet.

During today's roundtable, RIM talked up the benefits of launching an app within BlackBerry App World, bringing in execs from Zinio, Marmalade, and 100 Milligrams to sing its praises.

100 Milligrams has an app called Pacemaker, which essentially turns the PlayBook into a live DJ booth, complete with two turntables and a mixer. Pacemaker founder Jonas Norberg said the PlayBook was "the most responsive tablet out there. As a DJ, you want immediate action."

Still, the PlayBook lacks some of the more popular apps found on iOS and Android, like Skype and Netflix. Last week, Netflix said it had no plans to develop an app for the PlayBook, though it later noted that "our plans can change."

February 21, 2012

RIM Releases BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0

bb plybook os20

Research in Motion today finally took the wraps off its long-awaited BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.

RIM senior vice president David J. Smith announced the update via the company blog and went into great detail outlining the new operating system's features. As expected, the new update includes built-in email, calendar and contacts, as well as an update to BlackBerry Bridge, a tool which allows you to use your BlackBerry smartphone as a remote control for your PlayBook. The upgrade also updates the Print To Go and Documents To Go utilities.

In addition to an updated feature set, the new PlayBook OS 2.0 also allows the device to use Android applications that have been submitted to BlackBerry App World. The new OS also features better integration of social-networking services like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. And, if you're wondering if this update is worth a try, early reviews from some users claim that the new OS is far more responsive than the previous version.

Following up on Smith's initial announcement, RIM product manager Vivek Gupta focused on promoting the operating system's video chat features. Gupta said, "Video Chat on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet allows you to make and take video calls with your friends, family, and colleagues who also have a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet… With just one click, you'll be able to have virtual face-to-face conversations using the HD video cameras."

February 17, 2012

Leaked Docs Point to Feb. 21 Release of RIM’s PlayBook 2.0

Research in Motion may release its second-generation operating system for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet next Tuesday. The Canadian smartphone maker is on the record as saying PlayBook 2.0 will debut this month and leaked internal documents published by Engadget Friday (below) point to Feb. 21 as the date it will happen.

The documents, which the tech blog said arrived via an anonymous source, also tip Feb. 21 as the release date for BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a new platform that lets IT professionals manage the gamut of BlackBerry devices from a single interface. Management of devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems will be added in March.

The PlayBook 2.0 download will be made available at 4:01 a.m., though the time zone isn't specified in documents.

RIM is also locking down prices for new PlayBooks, according to one of the leaked detail sheets. The 16GB tablet is locked in at $199, the 32GB version at $249, and the 64GB edition at $299.

January 10, 2012

RIM Drops More Hints About PlayBook 2.0, BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry PlayBook

LAS VEGAS – BlackBerry maker RIM is trying to drum up app-developer support at CES, talking up the smartphone platform's popularity among its 50 million users, demonstrating a new version of its PlayBook tablet, OS and dropping some hints about its upcoming BB10 phones—among them that, yes, there will be models with QWERTY keyboards.

"When it comes to communications, we have a dominant offering that drives a great level of engagement and user satisfaction," said Marty Mallick, a senior director of business development at RIM. "We have 50 million BlackBerry Messenger users. Seventy percent of them use BBM every single day. We have APIs for apps that can take advantage of that engagement."

RIM gets slammed for having fewer applications in its store than Apple and Google do, but Mallick says the company is getting short shrift. RIM doesn't put out an official count of how many apps are in App World, but it's generally understood to be tens of thousands as compared to its major competitors' hundreds of thousands. Wikipedia claims the store has about 50,000 apps.

"BlackBerry is generating more downloads per app than other app stores … and developers are making more money on their apps on BlackBerry than on some of the competing platforms out there," he said. "If you get a million downloads but 90% of the people don't open those apps a second time, that's not as exciting as getting downloads where the user opens it every day."

January 3, 2012

RIM Slashes All PlayBook Prices to $299

BlackBerry PlayBook

On Tuesday, RIM ushered in the new year with a price cut, reducing all of its PlayBook tablets to $299, regardless of the tablet's storage capacity.

The PlayBook price cut only applies to the RIM online store, where all of the RIM PlayBook tablets are equally priced at $299, whether or not they have 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of capacity. RIM normally sells the PlayBook for $499, $599, or $699, depending on the onboard storage. The URL of the link suggests that the price cuts went into effect on Dec. 22.

RIM said in a December earnings call that it was writing off $485 million worth of PlayBook inventory that it had been unable to sell.

The discounts, from RIM's perspective, appear to be its version of the fire sale that HP implemented on its TouchPad tablet last summer. Then, HP sold its 16GB TouchPad, normally $499, for just $99. The 32GB version, normally $599, was discounted to $149.

November 28, 2011

Report: Best Buy Canceling PlayBook Orders (Updated)

Best Buy reportedly started canceling BlackBerry PlayBook orders late last week, according to a report from Electronista.

Shoppers were complaining that their PlayBook orders were dropped, even in instances when they had already been charged and the order was complete, Electronista said. One store reported that "all" of its orders for the tablet had been canceled.

A Best Buy spokesperson confirmed to PCMag in a statement that it's sold out of PlayBooks.

"Starting Sunday November 20, Best Buy offered $300 instant savings to the BlackBerry PlayBook, reducing the price to $299.99 and $199.99 for the 32 GB and 16 GB, respectively. Customers have responded very positively to this short-term promotion available until Dec. 3 and, as a result, we are currently sold out of our inventory. We will have additional units available in the near future, at which time customers will be able to purchase the devices online at"

RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.