FCC filings, leaked roadmaps, and comments from RIM’s top brass all pointed to the existence of an LTE-capable BlackBerry PlayBook — the only question left was when the thing would finally launch. The answer, according to a new statement released by RIM, is very soon.
RIM’s LTE PlayBook will launch in Canada on August 9 (with support from a handful of Canadian carriers), where it will remain for the time being. The company hasn’t provided any specifics on when the 4G-capable tab will trickle into other markets, saying only that it will be available in “the coming months from carriers in the US, Europe, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Interestingly enough, there’s very little word on what (if any) changes RIM made to the tablet aside from the inclusion of an LTE radio and a microSD card slot. All that RIM has revealed as far as the refreshed tab’s spec sheet is that it sports 32GB of internal storage — not much of a shock considering RIM killed the 16GB PlayBook line back in June. Also notably absent from today’s announcement are any specifics when it comes to pricing for the tablet, though that’s probably the sort of detail that’s best left for RIM’s carrier partners to disclose.
UPDATE: RIM representatives have just confirmed to me that the LTE PlayBook indeed sports a new 1.5GHz processor, instead of the 1GHz chip seen in the original models.
While the 4G PlayBook’s existence has been an open secret for months now, it’s sort of heartening to see RIM getting ready to push it out the door. If the roadmap I previously alluded to is accurate, then the refreshed tab looks appears to be the last major bit of hardware RIM was planned before the first BlackBerry 10 devices make their debut in early 2013.
Considering how much the company has riding on a successful launch, it’s probably good for them to be able to take one more thing off their already-loaded plate. That said, the market for a RIM tablet appears to be slowly drying up — RIM reported that it shipped 260,000 PlayBooks in its most recent earnings statement, down nearly 50% from the previous quarter — and the inclusion of an LTE radio may not be enough to turn that trend around.