Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry smartphone, has long been rumored to have an iPad-like tablet computer of its own in the works, supposedly known as the BlackPad: A new Wall Street Journal report has it that the BlackPad could be revealed to the world as soon as next week, when RIM will host its annual BlackBerry Developer Conference.
According to the report, the tablet will have a seven-inch touchscreen, one or two built-in cameras, and chips made by Marvell, which already supplies chips for BlackBerry phones. There are two surprises, however:
First, RIM’s tablet will a boost from a BlackBerry to connect to cellular networks:
It will have Bluetooth and broadband connections but will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone, these people said. Since the tablet won’t be sold with a cellular service, it’s not clear which carriers or retailers will sell the device.
As the Financial Post observes: “In other words, the BlackPad will be a companion device in every sense of the term.”
Second, the Wall Street Journal seems pretty sure that RIM’s tablet will not use the BlackBerry 6 operating system, revealed just last month, but will go with a QNX-built OS instead. Moreover, this could presage the widespread phasing out of BlackBerry OS in favor of QNX’s.
In a significant development, RIM’s tablet will eschew the recently revamped BlackBerry 6 operating system in favor of a completely new platform built by QNX Software Systems, these people said.
RIM bought QNX, a maker of operating systems used in everything from cars to nuclear reactors, earlier this year, in what industry watchers said was a bid to replace software criticized as slow and buggy.
RIM eventually plans to transition its BlackBerry smartphones to the QNX operating system as well, people familiar with RIM’s strategy said.
The WSJ reports that developers love QNX’s OS, and see it as “a worthy competitor to Apple’s and Google’s platforms.” As anyone who’s owned a BlackBerry can attest, for all the charms the device has (BBM, actual keyboard), the BlackBerry OS is a clunky, clunky creature, although OS 6 (which I have never laid hands on), was supposedly a step up. Whether or not we see the tablet next week, a new operating system could be just what RIM needs.