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Sprint pulls plug on 4G version of BlackBerry PlayBook

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Sprint has reportedly backed out of plans to sell a version of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet that runs on its 4G WiMax cellular network.

The carrier, however, will still stock and sell the Wi-Fi version of the tablet, which sells for $499.99, in its stores.

The reasoning behind pulling the plug on the WiMax PlayBook 4G? Sprint told the Wall Street Journal that the device hasn’t yet won over consumers and that there are a few too many tablets on the market right now.

‘It’s an interesting concept, it just hasn’t caught on with business customers as much as they would like,’ Paget Alves, Sprint’s business markets group president, told the Journal. ‘There are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer.’

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Officials at Sprint and RIM weren’t available for comment Friday about the issue, but a Sprint spokeswoman told the Journal that the whole deal ‘has no impact on our relationship with RIM.’

RIM has had a rough time companywide lately, and its PlayBook has experienced slow sales and a small recall.

The PlayBook, which features a 7-inch touchscreen, also lacks a native email app and has yet to receive an update that will enable it to run apps built for Google Android -- two additions RIM promised months ago.

[Updated 2:02 p.m.: Research In Motion emailed along a statement about its 4G plans for the PlayBook, which is focusing on LTE networks (which AT&T and Verizon use) and not Sprint’s WiMax network.

‘RIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE,’ the statement said. ‘We remain excited and committed to delivering innovative and powerful 4G tablets to the US market together with our carrier partners. Testing of BlackBerry 4G PlayBook models is already underway and we plan to enter labs for network certifications in the US and other international markets this fall.’]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog


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