New details have emerged regarding Research In Motion's planned BlackBerry tablet device.
With the BlackPad-the expected name of the device, after RIM acquired the rights to blackpad.com in July-it appears RIM is planning to avoid some of the missteps it took with the BlackBerry Torch 9800. While the Torch is widely considered the best BlackBerry handset to date, reviewers-and teardown experts-have found it to borrow from, or be on par with, existing devices, and so not terribly cutting edge. With the BlackPad, consumers and enterprises may encounter a little more wow.
Instead of RIM's new BlackBerry 6, the tablet is expected to run software developed by QNX, Bloomberg reported Aug. 19. The news outlet, citing a person familiar with RIM's plans, said the decision to use QNX software instead of BlackBerry 6 may stem from QNX being "simpler and faster," as BlackBerry 6 "includes legacy software code from older BlackBerry phones."
In April, RIM announced its plans to purchase QNX from Harman International for $200 million. QNX-based in-vehicle solutions are currently in more than 200 vehicle models, from BMWs and Land Rovers to Toyotas and Fords. Announcing RIM's acquisition plans, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said at the time, "We believe the planned acquisition of QNX will also bring other value to RIM in terms of supporting certain unannounced product plans for intelligent peripherals, adding valuable intellectual property to RIM's portfolio and providing long-term synergies for the companies based on the significant and complementary OS expertise that exists within the RIM and QNX teams today."
(It's not far-out to think RIM may still explore the in-vehicle market. Handset competitor Nokia has also dipped a toe in these waters, in May proposing, with five automotive manufacturers, a specification that it hopes will be the industry standard for integrating mobile applications inside vehicles.)
Again citing people familiar with RIM's plans, Bloomberg additionally reported that the RIM tablet will not connect directly to a cellular network-by contrast, Apple offers WiFi-only iPad models, as well as models with both WiFi and 3G connectivity over the AT&T network. The RIM tablet will also reportedly be roughly the same dimensions as the iPad and be finally introduced this November.
More, "the BlackPad is designed to capitalize on RIM's strengths with corporate customers, particularly with email service," Bloomberg reported. "The tablet will be closely integrated with BlackBerry's email system and will have similar security for messaging."
Analysts expect a number of device competitors to deliver tablet devices to market in time for holiday sales. Hewlett-Packard is at work on not one but two tablets-one running WebOS and another that's Microsoft-based. Google and Verizon have also said they're at work on an Android-based tablet, and Lenovo, Samsung and Motorola are likewise expected to bring tablets to market soon.
Analysis firm IDC has forecast tablet shipments to reach 7.6 million units by year's end, before rising to 46 million by 2014.