BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) plans to roll out a tablet in November to rival Apple's successful iPad.
The tablet is set to be about the same size as Apple's offering with a 9.7 inch diagonal screen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, two anonymous sources told Business Week.
The story builds on previous rumours the Canadian smartphone maker has been developing a tablet as well as testing a new slide-out QWERTY smartphone, although RIM did not confirm the story.
Analysts have reportedly said RIM must not wait to bring out a second generation tablet to grab a slice of the fast-growing market which has seen Apple sell 3m iPads within just 80 days of launch and predicted to shift around 13m units by the end of the year.
RIM reportedly intends to call its tablet Blackpad and is said to have secured the domain name blackpad.com. It is believed the price will be in-line with Apple's iPad which costs from $499.
William Power, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co told Business Week: "With the success of the iPad, RIM faces an uphill battle. RIM really has yet to demonstrate that it can roll out touchscreen technology to match the leaders in the space, most noticeably Apple."
Other analysts believe RIM may struggle to compete with Apple as part of the iPad's draw is its integration with services like iTunes and the 225,000 Apple-approved apps available, whereas RIM only has around 6,000 applications.
However, RIM's tablet is reportedly designed to appeal to business users as it will be integrated with the BlackBerry's email system and is also thought to have front and back-facing cameras for video conferencing.
While the tablet will be able to connect to the internet by Wi-Fi, it is believed it could connect wirelessly to a mobile phone with Bluetooth then to the internet when out of a Wi-Fi hotspot, although the Blackpad is not believed to be able to connect directly to a mobile network like its Apple rival.
The company is set to revamp its BlackBerry collection with a new operating system BlackBerry 6 expected in the coming months, after posting disappointing Q1 results possibly due to consumers' thirst for iOS 4 and Android phones. RIM's stock has reportedly dropped 15 percent this year, in contrast to Apple's which has soared by 22 percent despite ‘antennagate'.
RIM will reportedly launch its BlackBerry 9800 slider phone with touchscreen and slide out QWERTY keyboard on 3 August, in a bid to re-capture smartphone market share, which fell to just below 20 percent of global shipments in the first quarter, while Apple secured just over 19 percent, up from around 11 percent a year earlier, according to IDC.