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November 30, 2011

Exclusive: BlackBerry PlayBook 2 tablet still in the works?

RIM has confirmed that it is still building tablets, including a PlayBook 2, despite critics suggesting it had cancelled the project

By Allan Swann

Research in Motion’s director of EMEA enterprise marketing has confirmed that there will be new BlackBerry tablets coming out in 2012, apparently including a PlayBook 2.

The company confirmed yesterday during its BlackBerry Mobile Fusion announcement that the new platform would be built with tight PlayBook support, including native email and calendar applications to go along with the PlayBook OS 2.0 update. Rumours have dogged the company after its PlayBook 10-inch and PlayBook 4G/LTE devices never saw the light of day, after what has been a rough year.

When CBR asked if there were any plans for RIM to move away from manufacturing tablets and handsets in light of this announcement, Mr Hodkinson replied:

"Certainly not. This has been our biggest year ever for the introduction of new smartphones, and Blackberry 7 devices. We’ve also announced the BBX platform for next year as well. Our roadmap for our new product introduction over the last six months, and the direction we’re going is to have a full smartphone and tablet range in the market."

When asked if the company was looking at expanding its tablet offering with a PlayBook 2, not to be confused with the Playbook OS 2.0 software update, Mr Hodkinson confirmed that new tablet devices were in the works.

"Yes. We are looking beyond the Playbook 2.0 (software) release in February for tablets. We haven’t made any announcements yet, but watch this space. There’s going to be a lot happening here in 2012… particularly surrounding the recent BBX announcement made recently."

Specific technical details were not offered.

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Following April’s launch of the PlayBook, media reports got excited about a new 10-inch PlayBook device. A 4G/LTE version was also meant to have launched in ‘Fall 2011’, both have disappeared without a trace and several outlets reported that they had been cancelled to focus on the first BBX smartphone, codenamed the ‘BBX London’.

Mr Hodkinson’s comments would suggest that the reports of the demise of the PlayBook had been much exaggerated. This also means much more is riding on the quality of the February PlayBook OS 2.0 release. While they’re at it, they might want to do some work on the BlackBerry App Store… Watch this space.

Email: allan.swann@industryreview.com

Twitter: @allanswann

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