Sprint kills 4G Playbook plans

This is not good news for the fate of the Blackberry brand.

The one device that seemed to bring a shimmer of hope back to Blackberry and company Research in Motion, just lost a big supporter.

Sprint, which has the largest-scale 4G network in place among all major mobile carriers right now, has decided to drop plans to release a 4G version of the Blackberry Playbook tablet.

The Wi-Fi version of the device will continue to be offered at Sprint retail locations throughout the county, but the move to not offer a 4G data package to power the device is a big blow to RIM.

Such a venture would have required Sprint to devote its own resources to help develop the device, and apparently it just doesn’t see the value in that.

The Playbook, which launched in April, is noteworthy not only because it’s RIM’s first foray into the tablet market but also because it abandons the company’s decades-old Blackberry operating system and uses a new QNX-based platform. One of the stumbling blocks from RIM had been its highly outdated OS and failed attempts to bring it into the competitive arena of Android and iOS.

Because of its new and fresh approach, the Playbook has received a handful of positive reviews, but it has also faced criticism for its lack of apps and because it heavily relies on users having a Blackberry phone nearby to access certain features.

However, there’s certainly no end in sight for the Playbook, and it has indeed given RIM a boost of confidence. The company hasn’t released any new Blackberry phones for months, but is poised to launch a new slate of phones with the Playbook OS next year.