Research In Motion Ltd. is launching a new version of its poor-selling PlayBook tablet in Canada that will run on the latest high-speed cellular networks, the company said on Thursday.
The current version of RIM's tablet connects to the Internet via local Wi-Fi networks, but it can also access the Web by tapping into a user's BlackBerry cellular connection.
The new version of the PlayBook tablet, a device that has not sold well since its launch in April, 2011, will be available at BCE Inc.'s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. starting on August 9th. The device, which also received a software update in February after criticisms that it lacked RIM's signature e-mail service, will be able to run on these carriers' fourth-generation (4G) networks, a service also known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) and which is touted as having faster connections.
The company also moved quickly late Wednesday to counter a report out of India that RIM was ending a long-standing dispute with the Indian government and had granted security service there full access to its encrypted messaging services.
A report on the website of the Economic Times of India quoted an official saying that RIM had finally satisfied the government's demand for access to the BlackBerry's secure messaging service. The newspaper, which is part of the Times Group company that also owns the Times of India, also quoted someone from India's Department of Telecommunications who said the government's access extended to RIM's encrypted corporate e-mail service.
Although not all of a BlackBerry's messaging functions are encrypted, RIM has long maintained that it is unable to grant anyone access to its corporate e-mail service, which is encrypted from end-to-end. RIM responded in a statement late on Wednesday, saying it was necessary "to correct some false and misleading" information" that had appeared in the Indian media.
"RIM is providing an appropriate lawful access solution that enables India's telecom operators to be legally compliant with respect to their BlackBerry consumer traffic, to the same degree as other smartphone providers in India, but this does not extend to secure BlackBerry enterprise communications," the company added.
This spat has gone on for several years. One one side, Indian government officials are anxious to assure the media that security services are able to monitor all of the traffic flowing over India's wireless networks, particularly because of the domestic Naxalite insurgency and the potential for more terrorist attacks like the attack on Mumbai in 2008. On the other side, RIM is anxious to assure its corporate customers -- and perhaps particularly those working in countries where governments are involved in the economy -- that private communications between employees cannot be accessed by interested third parties.
On Thursday, RIM did not make available to The Globe its government affairs chief, David Paterson, saying he was in China. In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Paterson said: "The fact is that BlackBerry enterprise communications in India remain secure and encrypted. No change has been made or ever can be made in India or anywhere."