Sprint, RIM 'mutually' decide to scrap PlayBook 4G release

The future of Research in Motion's PlayBook tablet became less clear Friday as Sprint disclosed that it will not be carrying the 4G version of the device as was previously announced in January. The carrier will still continue to carry the Wi-Fi version, however.

In a statement to several news outlets, Sprint confirmed the change of plans. However, in what could be interpreted as a sign RIM may be pulling back on the PlayBook concept altogether, the move was described as "a mutual decision between Sprint and RIM."

Such a statement is usual, considering most times changes in product lineups are initiated by the carrier based on business decisions. The fact that RIM appears to be sanctioning it may indicate a realization on the company's part that the PlayBook device has failed to break into the tablet market.

About 500,000 PlayBooks were sold as of June, however RIM also announced it had missed earnings targets by a significant margin and began laying off employees. It could be that executives have decided investing too much of the company's limited capital in the device may not be the best business decision, and have thus begun to pull back.

Some believe that RIM's change of plans only hurts the company itself, and criticized their marketing strategies.

"Sprint cancels RIM PlayBook, RIM looks bad," Community and Developer Marketing head at HP Palm John Kneeland opined in a Friday tweet. "And THAT, kids, is why you don't pre-announce carrier partnerships."

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