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According to sources cited by BusinessWeek, RIM has a BlackPad up its sleeve and intends for the device to debut in November -- right smack at the start of the holiday shopping season.
BusinessWeek reports that the device will be nearly identical in size to Apple's iPad, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios will be included in the BlackPad, though no mention is made of an internal cellular radio. More details weren't provided other than the BlackPad name.
The operating system will be key for the BlackPad. Apple may have gotten away with porting iOS from the iPhone/iPod Touch to the iPad, but I don't think BlackBerry OS in its current form will work for a tablet. That means the Blackpad will bank on BlackBerry 6.
The previews RIM has provided of is refreshed operating system do indeed look better. We should learn more about the OS during the RIM / AT&T press conference being held Tuesday, August 3. That should give us a much better idea of what the BlackPad's potential OS will look like.
RIM is said to be working as fast as possible to get the product to market. Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Rodman & Renshaw, told BusinessWeek, "They can't wait for a second generation of devices from Apple or they’ll fall too far behind." I agree.
Knowing Apple and its update practices, the iPad will be overhauled next spring, with an announcement about the new device coming as early as January 2011. RIM (and HP, LG, and Samsung) all need to field devices before Apple makes that announcement. If they don't, they risk losing additional sales to Apple.
Apple has sold more than 3 million iPads, a number which Steve Ballmer recently noted is "too many." HP, LG, and Samsung have all said they are working on tablet and/or slate style devices. HP's will run webOS, and the LG and Samsung devices will have Android as their base.
Even webOS and Android need some serious polishing if they are to be used successfully in tablets. Can these companies really get worthy products to market in just four months? It's going to be a tight race, indeed.
RIM hasn't made any official announcements, and declined to comment on BusinessWeek's story.