Earlier this year, BusinessWeek claimed to have inside information about RIM's "BlackPad" tablet computing device. Tuesday's report from the Wall Street Journal appears to confirm many of the details previously offered by BusinessWeek.
At RIM's developer conference, scheduled for the week of September 26, the smartphone maker will introduce its tablet device, which will have a seven-inch display as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Journal notes that the BlackPad (not the official name, by the way) will not have its own cellular data radio, as do the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab devices. It can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, or by tethering to a BlackBerry device. An interesting limitation, but one that makes sense, I suppose.
Other details suggest the device will have two cameras, might have chips from Marvell, and will be available during the fourth quarter. The Journal believes Qaunta is manufacturing the device, which has confirmed that it is building a tablet computer for one of its clients.
More important than the hardware and connection capabilities, however, is the operating system.
According to the Journal, the BlackPad will not run RIM's new smartphone OS, BlackBerry 6. Instead, it will use a brand new operating system developed by QNX Software. QNX Software makes user interfaces and operating systems for a wide range of devices and form factors. RIM purchased QNX earlier this year.
Those familiar with QNX's operating system called it "a worthy competitor" to Apple's iOS and Android's Google operating systems. Those two systems are exactly the ones RIM needs to beat if it wants the BlackPad to be a success.
Beyond the BlackPad, the Journal's sources indicate that RIM will eventually transition its BlackBerry smartphones from BlackBerry 6 to whatever this new platform is. That's huge and leads to all sorts of questions.
Is RIM abandoning BlackBerry 6? Will it offer devices with both OSes? Will the new OS resemble the old one at all? How will RIM's legendary enterprise features be handled by the new operating system?
Hopefully RIM will answer these and more during its developer conference.