Following all the signs that a new 4G-enabled BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was in the works, rumors had been pointing to the possibility for the refreshed tablet to finally launch late last month. We’ve missed that date, but RIM’s not about to keep us guessing. In a statement released today, the company announces the coming availability of the tablet next week, while CEO Thorsten Heins separately discusses RIM’s future, including how the business may change with the arrival of BlackBerry 10.
First off, the PlayBook: this LTE-capable version also gets a CPU boost over the initial WiFi PlayBook, just like we heard it would. It moves up to a 1.5GHz dual-core chip, but the majority of the tablet’s hardware remains unchanged. RIM’s native Canada gets access to the new PlayBook 4G first, arriving on August 9. Dates for its international availability haven’t been released, but RIM says it will be coming to regions all around the world in the coming months.
In a recent interview, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins brought up one subject that’s been on a lot of our minds when it comes to BlackBerry: licensing. Apparently, RIM is seriously considering licensing BlackBerry 10 to other manufacturers, for use in phones of their own creation. He describes RIM’s potential role in such a scheme as providing reference designs and software; to that end, it sounds a bit like Windows Phone, though it’s not just clear how much leeway RIM might be thinking of granting such hardware partners.
Heins makes it clear that nothing’s been decided yet, and the idea is just something the company is thinking over. It still has to finish evaluating just what track might make the most financial sense for RIM. Come next year, though, there’s a very real possibility that we might just see the arrival of the first non-RIM BlackBerry phones.