In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the president of Sprintâ€™s business markets group Paget Alves has confirmed that the carrier will not release the initially planned 4G WiMax version of the RIM PlayBook, citing weak demand from business customers. Sprint has also confirmed that the cancellation of the tablet will not adversely affect its current relationship with RIM in the same statement.
“Itâ€™s an interesting concept, it just hasnâ€™t caught on with business customers as much as they would like, there are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer.â€
The tablet was originally announced in January along with the announcement of the standard Wi-Fi only version, though the proof that Sprint was not going to launch the tablet was laid bare in recent roadmaps that detailed the Torch and Bold 9930, but made no mention of the tablet, despite repeated assurances by the carrier that the tablet would be launched later this Summer alongside the Wi-Fi model which it currently carries in stores and online. Tellingly, RIM released its own PR touting the forthcoming release of the 4G LTE version later this year with the following statement:
Â â€œRIM has decided to prioritize and focus its 4G development resources on LTE. 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.â€
By issuing such a statement in the wake of Sprint’s cancellation, RIM has effectively become one of the few manufacturers to publicly announce intentions to abandon WiMax in favor of LTE and it remains to be seen whether more of Sprint’s hardware partners will follow suit.