RIM denies reports it will discontinue Wi-Fi-only version of PlayBook

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Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) is disputing a report that it will discontinue the Wi-Fi-only version of its PlayBook tablet.

"Rumors suggesting that the Wi-Fi version of the BlackBerry PlayBook is being discontinued are pure fiction," a company representative wrote in an email to eWeek. "Over the past month, the PlayBook has launched in 16 additional markets around the world and further rollouts are planned for Southeast Asia, Western Europe and the Middle East."

Earlier this week RBC Capital Markets Managing Director Mike Abramsky wrote in a report that RIM was possibly planning to end production of the Wi-Fi PlayBook model. Boy Genius Report cited an unnamed RIM employee who indicated that the company's 500,000 PlayBooks sold in the first quarter of the device's release were not sold at full margin.

The source added that operators are irked with the fact that the PlayBook requires a BlackBerry device to access native email. AT&T (NYSE: T) Mobility only recently began allowing BlackBerry users to connect their smartphones with the PlayBook tablet via the BlackBerry Bridge software that was required to hook the two together.

But ending the Wi-Fi-only version of the PlayBook would be ill-advised given the revelation from research firm IDG that tablets equipped with 3G cellular connectivity are not selling because consumers don't want to pay for another cellular data plan on top of what they are already paying for their smartphones.

According to IDG analyst Bob O'Donnell, consumers are buying the Wi-Fi-equipped tablets at a much faster rate that 3G-equipped tablets, which are sitting unsold in inventory at carrier stores and other retailers. O'Donnell said he is basing his information on various interviews conducted with tablet makers, including executives at Samsung and Motorola.

For more:
- see this eWeek article

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