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Blackberry Mobility Featured Article

September 22, 2010

BlackBerry Said To Be Readying Tablet Computer for Its Close-up

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

What's a BlackPad? You may not know now, but you may want one in a few weeks, if a story broken Tuesday, Sept. 21, in the Wall Street Journal turns out to be true.

Rumors abound this week (though speculation goes back months) that Canada's Research in Motion (News - Alert), makers of the BlackBerry smartphone, will announce a new tablet computer at the company's developer conference, scheduled to take place starting Monday, Sept. 27, in San Francisco.

Rumor has it the device will not use the BlackBerry (News - Alert) OS. “Inside sources” claim that along with the tablet, RIM will be introducing an entirely new OS to power the device, probably one designed by QNX Software Systems, an Ottawa-based provider of operating system software and services, middleware and development tools. RIM acquired QNX earlier this year, and it's expected that the company will eventually transition all its BlackBerry devices to the new OS, replacing the traditional BlackBerry OS that is often the subject of user and analyst criticism (and commuter swearing).

According to the Wall Street Journal's sources (fill in your own mental image of surreptitious meetings in underground parking garages, with envelopes exchanged over nervous side glances), the new BlackBerry tablet device will have a seven-inch touchscreen and one or two built-in cameras. Apparently, the device will not directly connect to any cellular network, but will make a connection through a user's BlackBerry smart phone, essentially making it a companion device. (However, this will also eliminate the possibility of the kind of price reduction on the unit often given by carriers subsidizing their contract customers.) According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the tablet will have a "broadband connection” that is expected to be WiFi-based.

Dig deeper into the rumor mill and we find that the new device is ostensibly being manufactured by Taiwan-based Quanta Computer, Inc., and will be built with chips from Marvell Technology Group (News - Alert) of Santa Clara.

RIM is generally thought to be at a critical juncture in its existence. Increasing competition from Apple and Android (News - Alert) devices is thought to have dropped the Canadian company's market share one percentage point in the second quarter of this year alone, according to research company Gartner.

Increased competition and an oft-criticized operating system appear to be pushing the company in a new direction. Its new tablet device will hardly bring them out of the woods when it comes to competition, however, as rivals Samsung, Dell and Acer (News - Alert) are also said to be developing tablet computing devices to compete with the iPad.

RIM has thus far not commented on the rumors.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

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