Sprint cancels plans to sell 4G BlackBerry PlayBook

Sprint PlayBook Cancelled
By Adam Zeis on 12 Aug 2011 02:28 pm EDT

*Update: RIM has issued a statement following this announcement by Sprint.

RIM Statement - August 12, 2011
RIM 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.

So don't give up yet if you were waiting for the 4G version of the PlayBook. It's still coming, we just don't know when or which carriers will end up with it.*

If you were patiently waiting to get your hands on a 4G PlayBook from Sprint before the end of the summer, your wait just got a lot longer. Just as we thought we were getting closer to seeing a 4G BlackBerry PlayBook arrive on Sprint, the company has stated that they have cancelled all plans to make the tablet available for sale. Sprint claims the PlayBook "just hasn't caught on with business customers" and "There are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer". Back in January Sprint announced they would be carrying the PlayBook but we never received an official release date. So with this news it looks like none of the major carriers are on board to pick up the 4G PlayBook just yet and leaves us asking just when we'll actually see it hit the market.

Source: WSJ

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Sprint cancels plans to sell 4G BlackBerry PlayBook


Ok, except no other major carriers seem to be interested either. Should they all be fired? Besides, Sprint was all about this thing. It's not like they never had any interest in it.

Dude - relax, you asked for a positive spin - I gave you a funny spin. Not looking for a debate here.

For Sprint being "all behind this thing" they sure didn't market the wifi version they had, so I don't understand how they can judge if it would've caught on or not considering they didn't push the wifi model, and why would anyone buy the wifi model from Sprint, when you can get it a lot cheaper at Sears? I have a feeling they will be missing out when it receives the Android App player, Sprint is in bed with anything droid and this would've went hand in hand with that, but now, they kind of screwed themselves. Just my 2 cents.

While the Playbook is nice & all, it doesn't even have native email which is a huge fail!!! Why would I choose this over another tablet when I can't even get email out the box? They probably weren't selling good & Sprint decided to drop it all together...I can agree with that decision!!

Blessing in disguise, why waste time developing anything for Wimax when even Sprint are looking towards LTE.

Here's a positive spin. This article needs updating. The playbook is slated to come out with LTE 4G instead of the wimax garbage. Don't know if it will be sprint but whoever chooses to come out with it will have the best device for LTE

Time to roll out some updates RIM and make carriers want to add to their line up. As it stands right, the PlayBook is lacking -- add some more value to it and then maybe they'll re-evaluate.

I wish they would, but I can't hold my breath any longer. A part of me hated to give up on the PlayBook that I had, but a bigger part of me hates to see the PlayBook development sit idle.

I hardly think the PB development is sitting idle, I kind of bet that midway through developing native PB PIM apps they realized it would be advantageous to align their QNX smartphone PIM development with it. The PB launch should have been pushed out alongside the QNX phones so they could have abandoned their legacy products and move on to a platform where cross-device interoperability and user experience is aligned.

They're stuck with legacy BES/BIS headaches right now. I don't know how this isn't more well known or publicized. The only reason there's no native PIM is because the backend is Java and they're trying to get a decade worth of old code to interact with a new platform.

The fact that a major carrier has given up is indication that they're WELL behind schedule with PIM and the NDK, etc. Sprint is in direct contact with RIM and knows the ins and outs of whats going on with the Playbook's development. The fact they are cancelling indicates a huge lack of confidence.

That's the bottom line. Sprint was tired of waiting. Other 4G tablets are out there. RIM was dragging their feet.

I kinda see this more as a money issue... Maybe it's that the other tablets have a much better dollar margin $$ for Sprint's business.


It's just a political move by Sprint to pressure RIM on something else they WANT... damn all carriers!

Doesn't make sense, Sprint shouldn't complain about having more options to their customers, I call this BS!

Ian aka "The Conspiracy Theorist"
Torch 9800 & PlayBook 64GB Wifi

Consumers continue to look for the lil' green stick-figure lookin' guy on the device and can't find him anywhere(???) That seems to be where the confusion is setting in...

Go to Sprint's website right now and look at their rotating banners...see any green patterns there??? There's your confusion. BlackBerry doesn't seem to fit in Sprint's agenda.

Yep. Everything with RIM lately is delayed. That's not the way to win back/keep hold of (depending on your point of view) leadership in the market. The NDK needs to be released yesterday.

Most people who decide to buy a Playbook do it because they have a Blackberry phone and wish to stay in that ecosystem. At that point it is redundant to pay for a separate connection on a playbook when you can teher ur BB. Furthermore, who would buy a tablet with a dedicated connection when it still does not have a standalone email client.

So what that I sell you a car with three wheels on it. Trust me, the fourth wheel is coming and you will really like it. You'll be able to go to work soon...

Oops, forgot to add the positive things. At least we have a car. Someday it will be able to get us to work. And it has three wheels and not two. See, now that's positive!

Sure hope Rogers has more brains than what Sprint is offering. Sure there are a lot of tablets out there, but how many of them offer 3/4g versions? People WANT variety. Sprint shouldn't be narrowing it down for them.

On the flip side, RIM seeing this may finally clue in and pick up the pace a little.

Just Shows The Whole Friggin Blackberry World That RIM Needs To Fire Those 2 Dumb Asses Who Drove This GREAT Company Down Into The Dirt ... Glad I Got My Playbook , But Wish I Good Use It The Way It's Meant To Be Used , Now On To The 9930's Come Ob SPRINT Let's Make It Official Already And Let Us Start Pre-Ordering , I Been On The Phone Everyday Since That Flyer Was Posted And They Aren't Saying Anything To Confirm August 21st ... Get With It Sprint !!!

This is can't be a surprise to anybody. I'm sure Sprint (my carrier) was just as frustrated as those who own a playbook (my tablet, wth me everywhere) because of its limitations. I am not in any way interested in the android echosystem. I want RIM to follow through with their promises and make this tablet value at its true potential or buy it back from me (+tax) and I go settle for my soon to be blackberry bold touch (still excited).

Am I the only person worried that RIM is falling for the peer pressure of competing with Apple? I just have this funny feeling that the QNX devices may end up being too far from what we grown to love. I'm all for future phones but just like the camera taking pictures, they have a habbit of doing addition by subtraction. I got the playbook for it to be my media toy. I really don't want them to go nuts and lose the Blackberry signature.

The writing has been on the wall for some time with the Playbook. Anyone, that is anyone who isn't so blinded by loyality to RIM and can actually be self-critical for one in their life regarding their favourite company, should be able to see that RIM has screwed up completely with the Playbook.

I disagree. The playbook is not a faliure. I agree it needs some love with a deeper app variety but the tablet is a beast none the less. This is why I comment about this peer pressure to compete with Apple. If they would put their attention on the playbook working with the new os7 devices and get the native email and calendar done up already then they can drive sales up now. Not to mention that they can't promise these QNX phones will be out at the beginning of next year so why not put some love into the devises now?

And the main credit RIM gets for the Playbook is purchasing QNX. It should have been called the QNX playbook because it doesn't resemble anything that says blackberry..........yet.

I agree with you that the tablet is good - from the technology side - but the "beta" OS, lack of apps, lack of native email killed the device from the get-go.

I think things would have been radically different if native email was there from the get go. Despite what all the blind fans say, this is the number one question that the regular consumer asks when they pick up the playbook at the store. And when they are told "no, it doesnt". The device is put down and consumers look elsewhere.

And for disclaimer, I actually have no problem with not having a native email client on the playbook as im fine with bridging to my phone. But I am in the minority. The lack of native email has killed the device and until this is rectifyed, the Playbook will not succeed.

Ditto this, I've used just about every consumer tablet on the market, and only one thus far IMHO has been designed with the actual user in mind, and that is the Playbook. Even the most basic stuff on other tablets is wrong, even the speakers, I mean, God forbid they make a tablet that actually directs sound at the USER!!! WTF everyone else!!!???!!!

Man, that tablet are you describing its not called Playbook, its called iPad. The Playbook its that little 7" sh... in black color that not even have native calendar or email.

Screwed up completely seems rather wrong when you consider the what the real benefits are with the playbook, to start with they get 3rd party development going well ahead of them launching the phones, the wifi one allowed them to ship an initial product without the hassle of carrier approvals and the eventual LTE models will set them up perfectly for practically every other network in the world given how ignored wimax has been as a 4g technology.

Sprint is almost done anyways. Sprint will be filling for CH 11 soon. No need to worry about a company that doesn't make any money. I give them another year before the money runs out.

This is straight BS from Sprint. What they proabably mean by "confusion" is the fact that they realized that WiMax is a failure and they should have went to LTE for their 4G network like everyone else, thus a WiMax capable PlayBook makes no long term sense.

That would make sense.Easier to develop an LTE Playbook for multiple providers and give RIM's development team more time.Assuming there will be a Playbook by then..................

Umm...I am lost I have seen most tablets and the PB is on par with each of them. Even without email support the PB is a monster...why does it continue to get negative press is beyond me. I think it's the media perception falling on the ear's of the consumer. Of course that's not to say that they haven't made mistakes..but come on the only one I see on the PB is the native email and the need for more apps...people really need to get a clue. Even down to the BB themselves...the only thing seperating them from the rest of the pack is their OS once that changes...they will be as good (if not better) as the rest.

I don't normally chime in on something I don't own, but I've got your positive spin right here....


We the consumers didn't want to line your pockets any more than they already are. I love the fact that this tablet doesn't need to be tied to any sort of phone company. Why? Because this is not a device that needs them to make sales. Tablets are their own platform and stand on their own. I laugh when I see the wireless companies selling netbooks w/ data plans. Those are "Gotcha" incentives that only a fool falls for.

This falls in line with "Hey, if you can afford it then purchase it." This is actually a win for RIM from an analytics standpoint. No skewed numbers on PB owners which helps improve v.2 of the PB whenever that comes out. Good example of this are digital cameras. There's a reason why dSLR cameras start around the $500 budget. Why? Because it's a particular market, and not everyone out there needs one (even if they take more amazing photos than a pocket-sized point-and-shoot).

So Adam, when will a 4G PB hit the market? Answer: Who cares....it's a Wi-Fi device that the wireless companies don't need their grubby hands on.

Take the high road and see some good in this. The PB will be fine as long as consumers utilize the device to its fullest while showing the strength of its capabilities. I enjoy a more premier product than "your neighbor's device." RIM will continue to make sales because it's still a damn nice product...it just needs some good marketing backbone behind it. Although I don't own one yet (not in my budget right now), I love the thing...even when Best Buy keeps the thing shut off (Get on that RIM! Make some heads roll if you care about your product.).

Besides, I don't see PB as a consumer device or toy. I see it as a strong productive tablet first with entertainment being an additional benefit.

Just my $.02

That's great, except most consumers won't get that far into it. Instead, they will see this news and say "Oh, the PlayBook must not be any good. I'll avoid it and buy something else."

...which exactly proves my point ifarlow. The PB is a device that's not for everyone. What I enjoy about RIM as a whole, besides their security, is that it's an educated product. Their products are devices you use. They're not devices you play with.

An educated consumer will look at a PB and see it's full potential and benefits regardless of company brand.

...which will translate to low sales numbers (something we have already seen - hence the PlayBooks "shipped" comment). That, in turn, might just translate into scrapping the project due to lack of interest/profit.

Build the best tablet in the world that too few people buy, well... that's not really something to be proud of.

The project will not get scrapped because most of the development of the playbook has benefits towards the eventual qnx phones.

Not sure if this was directed at me, but my whole point of the PB is one that you'd appreciate as an entrepreneur. I believe it's a device that helps to build other ventures. With QNX and a dual core processor, it's a workhorse that can build growth upon itself through talented minds that put their passion into the product (the 5 percenters out there).

Although I do understand growth revenue, overhead, profit/loss, etc., I also understand the concept of "If you want to make money (RIM), you're going to have to spend money (PB production)."

It's another tortoise v. hare race with RIM's tablet. I think its best days are ahead of it. But I greatly appreciate your feedback SteveeJobs. Thank you for your opinion.

Perfect!! I own the pb and am quite happy with the option of tethering to my phone. It is one added feature that no longer binds you to one of the cell carriers.

With BB bridge its even easier. I'm currently tethering between an att phone and a verizon (work) phone.

I say later Sprint, your loss.

DUDE!!! that was awesome. Well said. I was one of those people about to fall for the hype of Wimax (not really 4g) playbook and it came to me that for one wimax is not that fast and second, IT's NOT EVEN IN MY STATE!!! I would love to get it fully functional everywhwere but why am I going to pay $60 extra for a device that won't get top speed (not 4g) unless I go to specific states.

So I second that.


Too bad. With th general lack of interest in the PB, it just isnt going to get developers time. I like my PB but with out updates and apps, I will probably find another platform.

In related news, Sprint's WiMax network hasn't caught on well with anyone either! And I'm a Sprint customer!

I own an iPad by accident, got it for free at time when PB is still on the drawing board. When I bought my PB, the Ipad is gathering dust somewhere in my house. But with all these games RIM is playing im thinking of making a quick buck selling my PB, any taker?

Sent from my BB9700, sometimes Iphone4, with love

This sucks but I can see why they didn't take it. This is going to Leave Rim as the only company with out a tablet 4g or otherwise on the carrier market.

i'm guessing the HTC Flyer 4g is sold out at sprint. sike. I will say RIM needs some serious updates for the Playbook.

Get with it

I hope RIM goes down even further. I have never seen a company like RIM who is arrogant and living in the past. They only have corporate business which will be slowly going to apple and android. I have a Blackberry because that is what I have been given by my company IT. I would switch to apple or android yesterday if I can.

One thing I am wondering about, we heard rumours a while back that they were pushing on faster with the qnx phones, maybe it was actually rim that decided back then that it was a waste of time developing a wimax product when they already had to develop cdma/lte and hspa/lte models for everywhere else.

Go to a Sprint Store, or go on the Sprint website, and use the comparison tool for tablets. Select the three available 7" screen devices:

BlackBerry® PlayBook™ Tablet - $499.99 WiFi version
Samsung Galaxy Tab™ - $199.99 3G and WiFi
HTC EVO View 4G™ - $399.99 3G, 4G, and WiFi

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the average consumer, who knows almost nothing about tablets, would be looking hard at those prices. To top it off the premiere downtown Sprint Store in San Diego has the security locked out on the PlayBook, so I had no way to do a test run pairing with my 9650.

I really feel Research In Motion need to drastically cut the price on the PlayBook. At this point they should sell it near cost, or even at a slight loss, just to get some units out in the wild. Then open up a feedback line from every user, sort of like an error reporting set-up used by Apple and Adobe.

I was one person very much interested in the 4G PlayBook, though mostly to see how the price and performance would compare to the WiFi only version. Sprint does not have great pricing on data plans, though slightly better than some other carriers. So in a way they made up my mind for me, but without some software development still completed on the PlayBook, I now await the rumored Amazon Tablet. Unless the PlayBook price drops and software gets completed (at least a calendar function), they might find they have a dead product by next year.

Here's my problem with all of this. The consumers who make devices successful are not overwhelming tech heads like us who visit this site. Think of the average consumer as someone like that relative who calls you up and wants to know how to download photos from their digital camera.

So pretend like you're one of those people. Its Christmas and you're trying to decide which 4G/LTE tablet to buy yourself (or for someone else). Are you gonna wait until blackberry chooses to release theirs in 2012 (and perhaps delay it again)? Or are you gonna walk into your local Best Buy and have the sales rep talk you into buying a 4G iPad - which by the way you can actually touch and feel.

Either way the thing I think RIM is slipping on is that when the market is starting to become flooded with options, delays loose market share.

The Playbook is being killed by RIM. I need the basics regardless of whether I am using a tablet, smartphone, or a laptop. Missing contacts, calendars, and email are major failings. No wonder there is a lack of interest from business customers. I wouldn't want to try to use it for work.

The bridge idea doesn't work for me as I don't want to have a BlackBerry as my phone. I am enjoying my HTC Sensation. I might go with an iPhone next or the next new HTC but I am not likely to choose any of RIM's phones. I can't rely on that for a standalone device.

Sensation sucks. Actually I think must business users are not the one downing the PB cuz I'm sure they can bridge their bb with the pb which enables all that you described. Curious guestion I can understand the needs for email on the pb, but as far as calendar and contacts are concern if you can't make a phone call with the pb yet, what good is it to have contacts if you can get the same info from your phone.

Get with it

Perhaps too, RIM decided to kill the WiMAX PlayBook in favour of an LTE PlayBook. Perhaps RIM sees no future in WiMAX, and most WiMAX supporters are giving up the fight and moving to LTE. Sprint isn't ready to move to LTE just yet.

I believe AT&T is going to sell the playbook. I see that it is listed on the product insurance list. I had a feeling that AT&T had something up their sleeves when they released the bridge application in July. I was checking this list because I find out that the insurance for their phones is going up from $4.99 to 6.99. AT&T will probably sell the Playbook on its 4G network. AT&T will be carrying the Torch 9810, which is exclusive to AT&T in the US. In addition, AT&T will be carrying the BlackBerry Torch 9860. Go to this link and click on the list and see what you think:

I do not think it would be in Sprint's interest to carry the 4G Playbook and people are able to bridge the device to their phones without any additional costs. Why would a customer want to pay a monthly fee if they do not have to!

AT&T is going to eventually put Sprint out of business if the sell of T-Mobile is finalized. Sprint is doing everything to stop the deal. Sprint is financially in the red...

It's hard to put a good spin on this, frankly. One thing that strikes me is that Sprint didn't even really NEED to make an announcement on this, they could have just stayed quiet until nobody cared anymore.

That said, I'm a BB (and PB) enthusiast. I'm not giving up, but I think RIM needs to face a few realities about this product:

1) I'm not sure RIM has made a compelling business case for the adoption of this device in the enterprise. Sure, it's secure, but what is it really GOOD for? RIM DESPERATELY needs to work with VARs to demonstrate just how useful this thing could be. Yes, that cop-car thing was cool; we need to see that kind of demonstration for healthcare, design fields, and maybe a few more "gee-whiz" applications.

2) RIM hasn't made a great case for consumers, either. The app base is smaller than either Apple's or Android's, even taking into account the "quality over quantity" argument. The Android Player will address this. A bit. But it's still a stopgap.

3) Developing for it isn't any easier than for either of the other major platforms, either. For God's sake, RIM, consider finding some way to subsidize some kind of cheapie "FlashBuilder Elements"; that might just stimulate some interesting new apps. Or do something interesting like implementing Microsoft's .NET framework, or... SOMETHING!!

I'm not being critical for the sake of being critical. I bought my PB with my own hard-earned cash, and I would love to see it succeed in the market. If us PB enthusiasts have any solace, it's that HP's tablet is crashing and burning even worse.

They made an announcement that they would be carrying a Wi-Max PlayBook, so they had ro announce that plans have changed.

The optics of this suck as RIM is finally coming out with some decent phones and didn't need this to rain on the parade.

Thinking in longer term, this might be good or at least expected. I have a sneaky feeling this has more to do with RIM not supporting WIMAX and moving to LTE than slow Playbook sales. Is you read the RIM press release carefully, it says it already has an LTE version in testing and about to release it for carrier certification. I suspect the new QNX phones are also going to be LTE.

Remember that patent consortium RIM joined that bought all those Nortel patents ? Yup....LTE.

So, I think this was retaliation from Sprint as they will be forced to abandon WIMAX as more of the platform decisions in favor of LTE like this one are made. Think about Sprint selling Wimax Playbooks and then being forced to pay RIM royalties for LTE.

I'm wondering if the iP5 delay and US carriers playing coy regarding the new BB phones isn't also related to the Nortel patents !

Sprint needs to stop BSing and switch to GSM and get LTE along with it so that in case the T-Mobile/AT&T merger happens they can take customers away from them. Besides people, SPECIALLY business types prefer GSM because you can travel and just insert another sim in it.

GSM? Really? How about no.

LTE is based on UMTS which is a wideband CDMA technology, so really the only people who still use GSM are the people running on EDGE. Now if you were to say that Sprint should switch to HSPA+ and LTE, that would be a semi-educated statement, but still completely unpractical. There's no reason they should put more money into changing their 3G network.

Sprint has already announced they will make the transition to LTE back in July when they announced their deal with LightSquared for LTE data access, 3G roaming, and a butt-load of cash in exchange for access to Sprint's infrastructure with a 15 year deal. Clearwire hasn't given up on WiMAX yet, but their partner Sprint apparently has. Lightsquared will have initial deployments in 2012 with nationwide LTE coverage by 2014. Supposedly, testing is already under way in some markets like Phoenix, KC, and DC.

The 9630, 9650, and 9930 all have SIM card slots for international roaming, so where's the problem with what Sprint has now?

Maybe you could find out what you're talking about before you go spouting off about things...

QNX is a strong and a capable OS. There is no quick shortcut/workaround for RIM to address the BIS/BES problem, Lets remember that so many companies are running on BES and a huge change on a PIM model is not that easy.
I think RIM has to let devices on a same account to use 2 different PINs, but add a module on the servrer to connect those PINS to each other and then release the email client app. If you think those apps are not ready at this moment, you are wrong.
Regarding the 3G/4G carrier support, I don't blame Sprint. Its business and its sometimes rude .but here is my opinion, RIM has to continue working on LTE but they need to shock the Market with something unexpected. I give you an example: Imagine RIM reveals an add-on 3G modem for the current PBs, something small that you put a SIM card in it and attach it to PB....I hope soon we won't hear that some other company is buying RIM.