When Research In Motion announced its first tablet computer the BlackBerry PlayBook a few months ago, the company implied that all of the major U.S. carriers would offer a 3G/4G version of the device sometime in 2011. But after poor reviews leading up to its Wi-Fi-only debut this week, Verizon Wireless seems to be waffling.
Not having Verizon on board would be quite a blow to a company that has seen its smartphone market share plummet in the past year RIM has been hoping a solid entry into the tablet space would help it diversify and remain competitive. But a Verizon spokesperson told Reuters Wednesday that it is still evaluating the BlackBerry Playbook and [has] not made a determination as to whether [its] going to distribute it.” Verizon has the most wireless subscribers of any U.S. carrier, topping 90 million.
Sprint is on board for sure, scheduling its PlayBook release for sometime in June. No word yet when AT&T might sell the tablet, but many of the carriers customers are already having issues with the Wi-Fi version. AT&T is blocking the app that allows you to tether the PlayBook to your BlackBerry smartphone to access your email; however, you can still get your messages via the Web. AT&T is said to be testing the program called BlackBerry Bridge and it could be available soon.
Early sales of the PlayBook might entice Verizon to get back on board. Analysts predict up to 50,000 units might have sold on Tuesday, the first day the tablet became available. That number would beat many expectations.
RIM is targeting the PlayBook at business users where it’s traditionally been strong and the general consumer.