BlackBerry maker Research In Motion appears to be the latest tablet-minded company to have given in to a device title emphasizing not "tablet" or "slate," as such devices were once known, but "pad."
Apple, of course, started the whole "pad" business with the iPad-of which it sold 3.27 million during its fiscal third quarter, for total revenues of $15.7 billion. PC-makers-turned-smartphone-makers Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard have since hopped on board. Lenovo has plans to launch its LePad by year's end, and HP recently filed a trademark request for the name "PalmPad"-a safe bet for the title of its planned tablet running Palm's WebOS platform.
And now, according to Mobile Crunch, RIM has purchased the domain BlackPad.com. Unless it's a ruse intended to prevent snooping journalists from discovering the far-better name that its savvy marketing department has actually cooked up, a RIM BlackPad could hit retail shelves in time for the holidays.
The Wall Street journal first reported in June that RIM was working on a tablet, though the Ontario-based company offered no comment on the topic-just as it didn't respond to a request for comment on the BlackPad name. Analysts, however, believe such a product is likely and could be a hit for RIM, particularly with its original enterprise audience.
"A larger tablet, with the ability to link to key enterprise productivity apps, could be a very useful accessory for the business traveler," Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK, noting that much depended on whether RIM's upcoming BlackBerry 6 OS was engaging enough.
Industry analyst Jack Gold has likewise suggested to eWEEK that much of the success of a RIM tablet-BlackPad?-will depend on BlackBerry 6. And while such a device would have to compete with the Apple iPad, Gold also suspected that it would be "more aimed at business users than iPad would be."
Does RIM really have a tablet in the works? For enterprise or consumer users? And will it really call it the BlackPad? Time will tell. Analysts expect a number of new products to arrive during the fourth quarter, in time for holiday sales. Further, IDC has forecast tablet shipments to reach 7.6 million by year's end and 46 million by 2014. Analysts at Barclays for now expect Apple alone to sell 20 million iPad in 2011.