The decision means the device hasn’t yet found any support from the three largest U.S. wireless carriers, which includes AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Without their backing, RIM will have to bear the burden of sales and marketing support for the device, as well as application development.
In contrast, Apple’s market-dominating iPad is advertised and supported by both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, and the tablet is displayed prominently in stores.
Sprint had said in January it would sell a version of the device as soon as this summer that would run on its fourth-generation network. The carrier said this week that those plans had been halted because the market for tablets has became too crowded.
“It’s an interesting concept, it just hasn’t caught on with business customers as much as they would like,” said Paget Alves, president of Sprint’s business markets group. “There are so many tablets in the market, it creates confusion for the average customer.”
A Sprint spokeswoman added that the decision “has no impact on our relationship with RIM.” The Overland Park, Kan., company noted that competing tablets, such as the Xoom from Motorola Mobility Holding and the EvoView from HTC, had increased competition in the space.
Representatives from Research In Motion did not respond Friday to requests for comment. RIM shares rose 1.4% Friday to $24.51, and Sprint advanced 1.5% to$3.17.
RIM launched the PlayBook in April with the aim of luring new customers as sales of BlackBerry smartphones grew more slowly. Since then, RIM has had to contend with tepid reviews, a small recall and an inability for it to connect to some e-mail accounts.
RIM reported it shipped 500,000 Wi-Fi-only PlayBooks in its fiscal 2012 first quarter in North America. By contrast, Apple said it sold 9.3 million iPads inthe June-ended quarter, and Motorola recorded 440,000 deliveries of its Xoom tablet.
Rival device-makers have had little success so far in catching up to Apple after its launch of the iPad in April 2010. Estimates vary, but analysts suggest Apple has two-thirds of the market, if not more.