Rogers eyes tablet bill sharing, PlayBook launch
* Plans data bill sharing, remote TV access
* Will offer RIM's PlayBook even without data plan
* Plans to launch tablets each quarter in 2011
TORONTO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO), Canada's largest wireless provider, plans to aggressively push into the nascent tablet market by allowing customers to share data plans between the devices and their smartphones, and interact remotely with home entertainment.
The market for tablet computers -- touchscreen devices smaller than laptops and larger than smartphones -- took off after the launch of Apple's (AAPL.O) iPad last April. The iPad has since sold more than 7 million units
Other firms are also jumping onto the tablet bandwagon, including BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO.
Rogers, which also owns cable-TV and media properties, also said it would carry the PlayBook even in its first iteration, which will not boast mobile connectivity separate from a BlackBerry smartphone.
"We'll start with the WiFi and add the 3G when it's available," Chief Marketing Officer John Boynton told a conference hosted by Rogers on the future of tablets.
RIM has hinted at, but not confirmed, a 3G version of the PlayBook, a 7-inch tablet it unveiled in September and is due for release in the first quarter of 2011. [ID:nN27231916] [ID:nN17192385]
Describing tablets as "the dashboards for the highways of tomorrow", Boynton said Rogers would likely offer a slew of new devices throughout 2011.
"We expect to launch at least a few tablets every quarter all through 2011," he said, adding that customers would soon be able to record Rogers content from tablets and share their data plan among multiple devices.
"Data sharing is important because tablets will not replace smartphones," Boynton said. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)
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