The long-rumored BlackPad may be unveiled at BlackBerry’s developer conference next week, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed “people familiar with RIM’s plans,” the Journal details a device with the following specs (take this information with a grain of salt, of course).
The tablet will apparently feature a 7-inch touchscreen, one or two built-in cameras, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections with the ability “to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone.”
It won’t use the new BlackBerry 6 operating system found on RIM’s latest BlackBerry Torch phone, opting instead for “a completely new platform built by QNX Software Systems,” a company RIM purchased earlier this year.
If the above information is true, it may present a few challenges for RIM. First will be trying to convince non-BlackBerry owners to purchase a tablet that can only connect to a cellular data network through a BlackBerry phone. Second will be trying to convince software developers to create apps for an entirely new platform.
RIM’s own app store, BlackBerry App World, isn’t exactly teeming with apps, but there are definitely enough in there to provide a good starting point for a tablet launch. If the operating system is going to be provided by QNX, they’ll have to either figure out a way to shoehorn BlackBerry App World into it or start from scratch. The tablet will apparently be available for purchase by the end of the year, so getting a new app store up and running and stocked with programs in three months is a spicy meatball, to say the least.
On the flipside, going with an all-new operating system over BlackBerry 6 allows the company to create a tablet-specific experience. And there’s loose talk that QNX will eventually be found in all BlackBerry phones anyway, so perhaps this is a good place to start.
The price of the tablet will be most interesting, too. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, while announced for all four US wireless carriers, doesn’t have a price tag yet. If RIM announces its tablet on Monday and the specs look decent, it could steal some thunder by pricing it aggressively ($400 or less) and not tying it to any of the carriers. The fact that it connects via a BlackBerry smartphone suggests it won’t be sold through carriers anyway, unless it’s packaged as some sort of phone-and-tablet bundle.
More on Techland: