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Is RIM finally ready to deliver its promised 4G PlayBook?

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Last year at CES, Research in Motion(s RIMM) promised it would release a 4G version of its PlayBook tablet for Sprint’s(s s) WiMAX network. That failed to materialize. A few months later at Mobile World Congress, RIM promised HSPA+ and LTE versions for the rest of the world’s carriers. More than a year later, it’s delivered squat on those 4G promises. But new photos have popped up on CrackBerry forums that appear to show the mythical device.

Lots of other recent evidence points to RIM finally delivering a 4G PlayBook. In February, Mobile Syrup cited Bell Mobility(s bce) sources saying an LTE version of the PlayBook would be available in early April. In March, Engadget dug up FCC documents showing BlackBerry is preparing LTE versions of the tablet that would work on AT&T(s t), Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) and the Canadian operators’ 4G frequency bands. The WiMAX version may never show, but it looks like RIM is finally ready to enter the mobile broadband age.

The question is whether connectivity enhancements are enough to change the PlayBook’s current status as a stinker. In the last several months, RIM has done plenty to make the tablet much more attractive to its core fan base and potential new customers, but arguably all the new features PlayBook OS 2.0 – such as support for enterprise e-mail – should have been ready when it launched. As for 4G, RIM let Apple(s aapl) beat it to the punch with an LTE tablet, which could have been a key differentiator for RIM’s suffering slate platform.

As my colleague Kevin Tofel has pointed out, RIM hasn’t so much improved the PlayBook as it’s caught up to the competition, which is hardly a compelling reason for customers to invest in the tablet.

Photo Courtesy of CrackBerry user fakedeadmau5

17 Responses to “Is RIM finally ready to deliver its promised 4G PlayBook?”

  1. I have a tendency to disagree with this article. There are plenty of opportunities, professional support and leadership supporting developer community.

    BlackBerry is also a more trusted leader in the mobile market international versus hype of Apple iOS and Android markets.

  2. Ozonation

    Sorry… despite the ardent defense of the Playbook, it frankly doesn’t measure up DESPITE so called hardware advantages. The whole experience – apps, flexibility, etc. – is not what it should be. Yes, I own one and use one. Face up to the reality folks.

  3. Fred James

    Rim is a sinking ship. You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig. Right now Apple can afford to only add incremental features to the Ipad because they control the tablet market. The Playbook still does not have BBM nor a native Twitter app. Rim posted a $125 million loss last quarter and had write down the OS7 devices. When you have to leech off of your competitors ecosystem you have already lost and the next 3 quarters will be horrific without any new products. 4g is the only thing Rim can market until BB10 and selling cheap curves overseas will only last until android and IOS saturate that market. While I do applaud Heins for cleaning house who will replace these execs on the Titanic. They still do not have a CMO and cannot rely on the carriers to market their products. The good thing is that Rim has no debt but that may not be the case soon is they keep posting quarterly losses.

  4. I agree with John, Kevin Fitchard is only a parrot to the other blogs. He offers no insight whatsoever. Read, regurgitate and spit. He states the obvious because it is the only knowledge he has. Good boy Kevin.

  5. Fitchard’s main point was that RIM had still not provided 4G on the Playbook after announcing it over a year ago. Pointing out how this gave an advantage to any tablet that already had 4G (including the iPad) doesn’t mean he’s in thrall to Apple, he’s just stating the obvious.

  6. Hope RIM succeeds. Choice and competition are good for all. I think a tight integration of phone & tablet coupled with security are features that might distinguish the PlayBook and are worthy of adoption by other platforms.

  7. What a biased article void of facts. This article is pathetic and a paid for ad by apple. Good job Brian posting the facts. Shame on the person who sold his soul writing this biased article paid for by apple. The so called new ipad is playing catch up with the Playbook.

  8. Brian Jozwick

    “RIM hasn’t so much improved the PlayBook as it’s caught up to the competition”
    Oh God, here we go. Another writer cashing in their weekly Apple pay-check or just mindlessly parroting what every other Tech Blog has to say. Lets do some FACT-CHECKING on that statement so this way you guys can know what NOT to say when promoting Apple products by bashing the competition.
    The Blackberry Playbook shipped with 1 GIG or RAM when it first launched LAST YEAR. The New iPad didn’t come with 1GIG of RAM until it’s third version which was launched LAST MONTH. So who is playing catch-up with who?
    Now lets talk about new features of the Playbook:
    “The question is whether connectivity enhancements are enough to change the PlayBook’s current status as a stinker.”
    It’s not just 4G LTE. They new Playbook will also have a dual-core 1.5GHZ processor. The New iPad comes with a dual-core 1.0GHZ processor. So the new Playbook’s processor is GOING TO SMOKE APPLE’S PROCESSOR! However, in all fairness (something you obviously don’t know how to display in this article cause your either on Apple’s pay-roll or your just too to do any actual research) the new iPad has a Quad-Core graphics chip which is by far the best graphics chip ever put in a tablet. So, in terms of overall tech value both tablets are pretty much on par with each other (the Retina display being another awesome feature of the new iPad, NFC and Enhanced Blackberry Bridge for the Playbook). See, that wasn’t so hard was it (telling both sides of the story instead of just a smear-job)? That’s how one maintains “journalistic integrity” (Google that when your done reading this…the concept will blow your mind).
    (and in a small departure of Journalistic Integrity)
    Long Live The RIMpire!!!!