RIM Tablet Could Challenge iPad, Android Tablets in the Enterprise

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-16

RIM Tablet Could Challenge iPad, Android Tablets in the Enterprise

If Research In Motion is getting into the tablet market to challenge Apple's iPad and tablets running Google's Android operating system, it could be the enterprise tablet some folks are waiting for.

RIM declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report that said the company was "experimenting with a tablet device to serve as a larger-screen companion to its BlackBerry phone."

That device, which the Journal said could come out by the end of the year, would connect to cellular networks via a BlackBerry phone.

Given the paucity of details and the refusal of RIM to comment to eWEEK, it is hard to say for certain what a RIM tablet might include.

But given that the iPad and Android tablets are running the same core OS' used on existing smartphones it's not a stretch to think the overhauled BlackBerry 6 might be the OS for a standalone RIM tablet.

Unveiled April 27 at RIM's Wireless Enterprise Symposium, BlackBerry 6 features a WebKit rendering engine and HTML5 support to offers some of the functionality popularized by Apple's iPhone and Android smartphones.

Multitouch functionality such as pinch-to-zoom browsing is just one of the many features users can expect when BlackBerry 6 appears on smartphones between July and September, said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis at WES.

Users swipe from one home screen to the next and drag and drop icons for the apps they like on a device's home screen to make them readily accessible. In short, BlackBerry 6 follows the iPhone and Android into the modern mobile Web browsing era.

Industry analyst Jack Gold said that RIM needs to get this OS right before it launches any tablet.

RIM Tablet Would Join Steep Competition

"The new OS gives them that capability," Gold told eWEEK. "And frankly, it could be very attractive to enterprises who want the bigger screens that tablets bring but still want the security and manageability that BlackBerry is known for. "Would it compete head to head with iPad? Perhaps. But I would suspect it is more aimed at business users than iPad would be."

A RIM tablet would join the iPad, which has set the bar for tablet computers by selling 2 million-plus units in two months.

Unlike the iPhone when it was originally launched in June 2007, Apple's iPad is being lauded as an enterprise tool for work tasks, such as making presentations and sales pitches. Citrix studies and an analysts' poll revealed a great deal of support for the iPad among businesses.

A RIM tablet would also contend with tablets based on Android. The Archos 5 and the Dell Streak already exist, and Verizon and Google are building a tablet together.

Samsung said yesterday it is building the Android-based Galaxy Tab for launch in the third quarter. HP is believed to have purchased smartphone maker Palm to inject Palm's WebOS into a tablet.

All of this proves that many companies are chasing Apple in tablets. "It's reasonably easy to upsize a smart phone into a tablet device, especially if you are using Android," Gold said.

However, Gold expects the tablet feeding frenzy to subside because the device is, like the netbook, a tweener.

"I believe that tablets will not be as overwhelmingly successful as many people think. They will have a run for the next 6-12 months, but then I expect them to taper off. They will not eliminate traditional laptops, nor will they replace smartphones."

Even so, the specter of a tablet shows that RIM, which finds its BlackBerry OS share pecked at by the iPhone and Android devices that provider a better Web browsing experience, believes it can't afford to let the next hot wave in mobile computing pass.


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