Research In Motion (RIM) today announced plans to launch two additional BlackBerry 4G PlayBook tablets during the second half of 2011, featuring support for LTE and HSPA+ high speed wide area wireless networks.
RIM?s family of upcoming BlackBerry 4G PlayBook tablets provide users with an ultra-portable design featuring high performance with real-time multitasking and symmetrical multiprocessing, high-fidelity web browsing including support for Adobe Flash and HD multimedia, as well as advanced security features and out-of-the-box enterprise support. The tablets are powered by the new BlackBerry Tablet OS.
The first version of the PlayBook, with WiFi and Bluetooth but no cellular connection, is set for launch in March and U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel will sell a version for its WiMAX network in the summer.
RIM has now announced plans to offer four BlackBerry PlayBook tablets:
1. BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi
2. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + WiMax
3. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + LTE
4. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + HSPA+
In addition to the Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity referenced above, each tablet can also support Bluetooth tethering, mobile hotspots (ie. a MiFi, smartphone or other portable device equipped to act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot) and BlackBerry Bridge.
High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) is used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States and Rogers, BCE Inc and Telus in Canada. Long Term Evolution (LTE) is an all-IP standard that Verizon Wireless, among others, has started to deploy.
RIM also said on Monday it had bought Seattle-based business social networking company Gist for an undisclosed sum, as it seeks to bolster its position versus Apple, Google's Android, and the newly announced combination of Nokia and Microsoft in the fiercely competitive mobile telecoms market.
Gist aggregates information on a user's contacts from various social media and news feeds and incorporates it in a consolidated profile.
RIM also said it will contribute to a second $150 million version of the BlackBerry Partners Fund, which will focus on investing in mobile-computing start-up companies.
The fund is expected to be launched in June.
BlackBerry Travel App
RIM also today announced BlackBerry Travel, a new app that provides BlackBerry smartphone users with an integrated experience as they plan, book and manage their travels and itineraries while on the go.
When a new booking confirmation or itinerary arrives in the user?s inbox, the BlackBerry Travel app is automatically updated with the relevant details, which makes travel planning and management easier than ever.
BlackBerry smartphone users can also have their calendars automatically populated with itineraries as soon as they are confirmed and, by leveraging the BlackBerry push technology, the BlackBerry Travel app can keep users informed and in control of their itineraries by monitoring flight statuses and promptly providing notifications about changes.
The BlackBerry Travel app also brings together tools that travelers need while planning on the go, including:
* Hotel booking
* Currency converters
* Weather forecasts
* Local searches
In addition, BlackBerry smartphone users can share their travel information with colleagues, friends and family over email or through LinkedIn, directly from the BlackBerry Travel app.
The BlackBerry Travel app also features a desktop component that allows users to book flights and car rentals, as well as print and edit itineraries, from their computer.
The BlackBerry Travel app was built in collaboration with WorldMate.
The BlackBerry Travel app will be available as a beta download today from the Test Center category on BlackBerry App World (www.blackberry.com/appworld). The app is free and works on select BlackBerry smartphones running the BlackBerry 5 OS (Device Software) or higher.
New BBM Mobile Gifting Platform
Research In Motion also today announced plans for a mobile gifting platform for carriers that will allow one authorized BlackBerry subscriber to use their post-paid or pre-paid account to approve and pay for airtime, apps or other carrier services requested by another BlackBerry subscriber.
The BBM mobile gifting platform will integrate with BlackBerry App World and carrier billing systems and allow the gifting requests and approvals to be handled directly between the BlackBerry subscribers using BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) with transactions that are secure, authenticated and non-repudiable. The platform will also allow carriers to more easily sell airtime to BlackBerry prepaid subscribers (for the subscriber?s own use).