updated 07:50 pm EDT, Wed April 20, 2011
Verizon uncertain on carrying BlackBerry PlayBook
Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney raised concern about the BlackBerry PlayBook's long-term prospects after saying the carrier hadn't yet decided to carry the tablet. It was "still evaluating" the design and left the possibility that it might not arrive at all, she said. RIM hadn't commented on the remarks.
The statement gave reason for alarm since RIM had explicitly named Verizon as one of the carriers it expected to carry the PlayBook once 3G and 4G versions were available. Sprint has vowed support through a WiMAX-based 4G version in the summer but hasn't been matched as directly by other US networks. It's implied by the comment that RIM may have assumed it would get support and made the declaration without a complete deal in place.
RIM's entry into the carrier-backed tablet market may be tough in the current climate. Verizon has had strong sales of its iPad 2 variant and was also the initial partner for Android 3.0 when it picked up the Motorola Xoom. The carrier has been conspicuously downplaying the BlackBerry as it becomes more and more dependent on Android and iOS, epitomized by its late 2009 decision to knowingly undermine the BlackBerry Storm2 by launching the Motorola Droid at the same time but with much more intense publicity.
Along with market pressure, Verizon may also be concerned at the lack of built-in e-mail, messaging, and calendaring, all of which should come in an update within 60 days but give the PlayBook an inherent if temporary disadvantage compared to virtually every other tablet.