RIM Holding off on 4G LTE for Now

Verizon Wireless is expanding its 4G LTE network and AT&T will start to get its own off the ground later this year. So where does that leave Research In Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone? Wanting to make an LTE compatible BlackBerry but hitting a number of snags.

According to Fudzilla’s unnamed sources, RIM has three problems that will delay the release of an LTE BlackBerry:

  1. LTE chipsets are just too expensive right now and cost-conscious RIM doesn’t think putting them into its handsets is a good move yet.
  2. LTE chipsets are power hungry like 3G was when it first came out. BlackBerrys don’t have the battery capacity to support them yet without major redesigns. (RIM still sells BlackBerry models overseas that use 2G.)
  3. Verizon’s LTE network is still small, greatly reducing the number of potential customers that could benefit from an LTE BlackBerry. AT&T’s network will take time to get rolling. Expensive LTE chipsets + small customer base = no 4G LTE BlackBerry for a while.

However, that doesn’t mean that RIM won’t release a number of phones in the meantime. The touchscreen only, BlackBerry Storm3 could still go on but without one of its most anticipated features—4G LTE. Similarly, the replacement for the Bold 9780, the ‘Onxy II’, would still be stuck on 3G networks. Since neither phone is expected to run a version of the QNX-developed operating system that will be found in the PlayBook tablet, I don’t see a lack of 4G LTE as being that big of a problem.

I also don’t see RIM selling many of them in the United States anyway since until QNX comes to its smartphones, Android and iOS will continue their march to dominance. LTE is really the last of RIM’s worries right now. Besides, Apple’s Verizon iPhone won’t have LTE for the same reasons that BlackBerrys won’t for a while: cost, battery and low network coverage. Until then it’s all about user experience, perceptions and apps.

Is LTE compatibility something that would persuade you to upgrade your BlackBerry to a new model?

What do you want RIM to do first: bring the QNX operating system to its smartphones or put in LTE radios?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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