RIM Says BlackBerry 4G Tablet on Track for Summer 2011

Research in Motion will release a 4G version of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet later this year. According to information provided by the BlackBerry smartphone maker, the tablet will reach consumers this summer and be available on the Sprint Nextel network.

According to a report from Reuters, there is “massive” corporate interest and enthusiasm inside Research in Motion regarding the 4G tablet. And based on the tone struck by Jeff McDowell, RIM’s senior vice president of enterprise and platform marketing, it doesn’t appear that RIM’s marketing pitch will ignore one of the BlackBerry’s largest fan bases – the business crowd.

“In large companies, they’re talking deployment in the tens of thousands, right off the bat,” said Jeff McDowell, RIM’s senior vice president of enterprise and platform marketing. McDowell tells Reuters that corporations see the PlayBook “as an essential tool to employees, just like a phone or a PC.”

While the tablet revolution itself is still a new and evolving phenomenon, the advent of 4G tablets like the BlackBerry PlayBook represents yet another sudden leap forward for the burgeoning product category that remains white hot even in a still largely downtrodden US economy.

RIM has not yet come forward with a confirmed price tag for the PlayBook, although the company has stated that the tablet will sell for less than $500. A Wi-Fi only model of the PlayBook, however, will be first to reach consumers. And it will be out during the first quarter of this year, several months before the 4G tablet debuts.

Despite the recently expressed concern by Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, who reiterated from his sources that the ambitious design of the PlayBook results in degraded battery life, RIM maintains that its BlackBerry PlayBook will retain “superior performance with comparable battery life.”