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RIM’s tablet rumoured to surface next week

by Sarah Griffiths on 22 September 2010, 10:25


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Tall tablet tales?

Research in Motion (RIM) is set to unveil its tablet iPad rival early next week at a developer's conference in San Francisco, if rumours are to be believed.

The unnamed tablet, dubbed the ‘BlackPad' is set to be released in the fourth quarter and is thought to tout a 7 inch touch screen, two built-in cameras, bluetooth and broadband connections but only via a mobile network though a BlackBerry.

According to The Wall Street Journal's anonymous sources, the tablet will not be sold as a mobile service so it is currently not clear which shops or mobile networks will sell the device.

However, perhaps the most intriguing rumour is that the BlackPad will not use the new BlackBerry 6 os but a new platform reportedly built by QNX Software Systems.

According to the newspaper, RIM snapped up QNX, which makes operating systems for all types of things including nuclear power stations, with a plan to eventually replace its BlackBerry os, which has been criticised for being slow and ridden with bugs.

Such a move may be a real opportunity for the Canadian phone giant, as Google has previously admitted that Android is not brilliant for running tablets at the moment, while other operating systems such as MeeGo, WP7 and webOS all have their own drawbacks and are works in progress.

RIM's tablet is reportedly being put together by Quanta Computer in Taiwan and will run on chips from Marvell technology Group. While RIM did not comment on the speculation, a spokesperson from Marvell did not confirm whether it is supplying the chips for the BlackPad, although it already makes chips for BlackBerrys.

The unveiling of the tablet comes at an important time for RIM, which has recently suffered threats from India and the Middle East, a slow start in sales for its new Blackberry Torch handset and  has seen its smartphone market share eroded by Apple and Google Android.

Research by Gartner, has found that RIM's share of the global smartphone market has fallen one percent to 18 percent in Q2 this year, compared to the same period last year, while Android phones are experiencing a rapid rise in popularity.

However, no matter how good its os, RIM will have to fight hard for tablet market share as Apple is so far ahead of the game with its successful iPad and new launches are on the horizon from the likes of Samsung and Acer among others.

Unlike Android and Apple, RIM does not have the benefit of a huge app store, a weak link in its smartphone proposition, so it will be interesting to see how the BlackPad fares. However, there is a glimmer of hope, as people who have worked with QNX have told the WSJ that the new tablet os is a 'worthy rival' to Google and Apple.

Alec Saunders, CEO of Iotum Corp, told the newspaper: "It was architected from the ground up never to go down," adding the os could rid RIM of its image that its devices are hard to program for and unreliable.

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