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WiFi-only RIM PlayBook could soon be gone for good

Analyst predicts the end of the WiFi-only model as RIM shifts focus on 3G/4G-enabled PlayBook models instead

According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky, Research in Motion (RIM) could be deciding to axe production of its recently released PlayBook WiFi-only model.

Aside from the supposedly weaker than expected sales of the PlayBook, Abramsky is claiming that RIM may be ceasing production of the WiFi-only model in favor of a 3G/4G model. “Weak PlayBook sales may not be the only reason – RIM appears to be focusing resources around 3G/4G PlayBook, QNX ‘superphones,’ and upcoming BlackBerry launches,” wrote Abramsky. Additionally, the 3G/4G models could risk cannibalizing sales of the WiFI-only models.

When RIM released its official PlayBook numbers, the initial sales weren’t bad, but definitely not worth writing home about. While a sudden cancellation of the WiFi-only model seems a little over-the-top, a heavy production cutback or gradual decrease may be the more likely action if RIM was to alter its WiFi-only PlayBook plans. Many other big name manufacturers, such as Apple, HTC and HP continue to offer WiFi-only models in their respective tablet lineups.

The 4G-equipped PlayBook was hinted at back in April by Abramsky, but was seemingly delayed for the Sprint network for unknown reasons. Rumors last month also claimed a cancellation of a 10-inch version of the PlayBook due to a reshuffling of resources between tablets and BlackBerry smartphones. While details on these additional PlayBook models are unofficial, RIM executives confirmed new smartphones and “several new versions of the PlayBook in the coming months,” according to Financial Post.

The current 7-inch WiFi-only PlayBook is equipped with a dual-core 1GHz OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB RAM, 1024x600 resolution screen, PowerVR SGX540 graphics, micro HDMI, USB 2.0 and front and rear cameras. The tablet first launched in the U.S. back in mid-April and the 16GB version currently retails for $444 on Amazon.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-07-18 (Update: 2012-05-26)