BlackBerry partners Sprint as tablet market soars

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Friday, January 7, 2011

TORONTO - With 2011 set to become the year of the tablet with 55 million units expected to be sold, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has joined hands with Sprint Nextel Corp. to make a mark with its PlayBook in the fast crowding tablet market.

RIM is launching the WiFi-only version of its PlayBook in the US market in March. It will sold under $500.

But its wireless version to be released later will run on Sprint’s fast wireless 4G technology and sold through the third largest wireless carrier in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper says the Sprint or wireless version of the tablet won’t be available until the summer, and the companies have yet to reveal the price of the product.

According to the report, the Playbook also won’t be able to run a significant number of the applications built for RIM’s BlackBerry smartphone because the tablet runs on a new operating system.

PlayBook runs on a new operating platform built by QNX Software Systems. RIM bought Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems for $200 million in April to have exclusive access to its software technology for its tablet.

Unveiled in September, the seven-inch Playbook has a dual-core computer chip to run high- definition video and other application simultaneously. Moreover, it supports Flash which Apple’s iPad does not, thus enabling PlayBook users to fully access YouTube and Facebook.

“RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis would not identify the maker of the computer chip, but he said the most difficult technical challenge of building the device was ‘intercepting the availability of the dual core processor. Over the past decade, RIM helped pioneer the smartphone market with its BlackBerry. Now, Mr. Lazaridis said the Playbook represents RIM’s foray into what he called the mobile computing market,” the Wall Street Journal says.

Though the BlackBerry maker is happy with the light, portable PlayBook, Lazaridis has hinted that RIM would make larger tablets in the future.

According to the report, RIM might be making a big mistake by delaying the launch of the wireless version of PlayBook till the summer because by then wireless tablets by Motorola, LG and others would have hit the market.

The tablet revolution, which began with the launch of Apple’s iPad in April and followed by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, is set to sweep the technology scene this year.

According to Gartner Inc., the tablet market will touch the 55-million mark this year, and iPad will account for much of the sales despite the entry of many new players.

The iPad has sold more than seven million units since its launch.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

Filed under: Economy

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