Rumor: RIM Realizes It Needs a Next-Gen BlackBerry Phone, Stat

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Research in Motion has never confirmed whether it was working on a 10-inch BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, but now the project is reportedly cancelled.

An unnamed source tells BlackBerry enthusiast site N4BB that RIM has ceased production of the 10-inch PlayBook, and for good reason: The company wants to focus on building a new smartphone powered by QNX, the same operating system found in the PlayBook.

This QNX-powered BlackBerry “superphone” is rumored to have a 4.3-inch display, a vertical screen resolution of at least 900 pixels and a 1.2 GHz single-core processor. Dual-core is still a possibility, but it’s causing battery issues right now, N4BB says.

(READ: 10-inch Blackberry Playbook? No Thank You)

I never liked the idea of a 10-inch PlayBook, at least not now. RIM’s 7-inch tablet is buggy and lacks a critical mass of third-party apps. Adding another screen size would complicate RIM’s development of the tablet, and would also cause issues for app developers, who would have to make their apps work well on both 7-inch and 10-inch screen sizes. RIM needs to make the existing PlayBook better before tacking on new models.

Maybe the same logic is true for a QNX-based smartphone, but that’s a risk RIM needs to take. The existing BlackBerry operating system is stale, and customers are jumping ship to the iPhone and Android.

Two weeks ago, RIM announced that it failed to meet sales expectations, even after the company cut estimates weeks earlier. RIM has promised new phones in the fall that will better compete with the iPhone and Android, but we’ve heard that song before: the BlackBerry Torch was supposed to be RIM’s big leap forward last year, but its dated hardware and aging software failed to excite consumers.

RIM has an exciting operating system in QNX. It uses finger swipes instead of buttons for navigation and has the most capable multitasking I’ve ever seen on a mobile device. RIM is in trouble, but QNX is its best chance — albeit a slim one — for relevance. A smartphone powered by this software needs to arrive sooner than later.

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