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BlackBerry Could Release 10-Inch PlayBook

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Reports suggest RIM to release new 7-inch and 10-inch PlayBooks

Beleaguered Canadian manufacturer RIM is reported to be preparing a 10 inch Long Term Evolution (LTE) version of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, along with an updated version of the 7-inch PlayBook later this year.

The plans were apparently uncovered from an alleged RIM roadmap and would be seen as a move to strengthen the PlayBook range, which has produced inadequate sale figures for the company.

Every little helps

According to reports, the 10 inch device would be released in December 2012, while 7-inch tablet would make its debut in April, but will not feature LTE support due to its chipset. But some observers have questioned the wisdom of releasing a 10-inch tablet given the failure of the original PlayBook to capture the imagination of consumers.

They note that increasing the size would bring the PlayBook into direct competition with the market leading iPad, and that it would struggle, like so many Android tablets have, to convince potential buyers of its worth, given a less developed ecosystem and fewer apps.

The PlayBook was released in April last year, but lower-than-expected sales led to many tretailers slashing their prices on the tablet. This failure has contributed to RIM’s recent financial woes, along with the delayed launch of BlackBerry smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

RIM has reported disappointing third quarter revenues and in December, announced that it was going to reduce its co-CEO’s salaries to just one dollar. Its share price has continued to tumble, leading to speculation that the company could either be sold or broken up.

However it has continued to support the PlayBook and only last week at CES it announced the new 2.0 version of the PlayBook operating system, to be released next month. This update includes improved apps for messaging, calendars and contacts, better communication options between various BlackBerry devices, and the much requested ability to be able to view email without having to tether a BlackBerry smartphone to the tablet.