Blackberry To Launch Apple’s iPad Rival ‘BlackPad’ Soon

Blackberry is expected to take on Apple and unveil the ‘BlackPad’, an iPad rival as early as next week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Samsung has already launched its own iPad rival, Galaxy Tab, seen on the right, next to Apple's iPad. Photo: Engadget

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) could unveil its new tablet with the new operating system that will power it next week at a developers’ conference in San Francisco, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The rival tablet style computer, which some inside RIM are calling the BlackPad, is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year, these people said. It will feature a 7th-inch touch screen and one or two built-in cameras.

The RIM tablet is expected will also have Bluetooth and broadband connections but will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone. Since the tablet won’t be sold with a cellular service, it’s not clear which carriers or retailers will sell the device.

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.

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.

People familiar with RIM’s strategy also says that the company eventually plans to transition its BlackBerry smartphones to the QNX operating system as well.

The Blackberry iPad rival is being manufactured by Quanta Computer Inc. of Taiwan, and will run on chips from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group Inc., according to people familiar with the tablet’s manufacturing.

A Quanta spokeswoman said the company is developing tablets for clients but declined to comment on whether RIM is one of them. Executives at Marvell, which already supplies chips for RIM smartphones, said the company has developed a new series for tablets but declined to say whether they are supplying an upcoming tablet for RIM.

The introduction of a tablet and new operating system come at a critical time for RIM, whose BlackBerry phones are facing increasingly tough competition from Apple’s iPhones as well as handsets that run on Google’s Android operating system.

Blackberry’s share of global smartphone sales fell by one per cent to 18 per cent year on year, in the second quarter of 2010, even as the share of Android and Apple devices rose, according to the Research firm Gartner Inc.

A key challenge for RIM has been convincing software developers to create applications for its phones, and the company will spend much of next week’s conference showing the kinds of things that can be done on its new devices—including the recently released Torch.

RIM is readying announcements and demonstrations, including an update on BlackBerry’s mobile advertising platform and an Inc. music application, said people familiar with the plans.

RIM’s tablet will face stiff competition in an increasingly crowded market. The launch of Apple’s iPad in April sparked a rush to build similar devices by a raft of companies from Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. to Taiwan’s Acer Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. and Dell Inc. of the U.S.

Many of those competing tablets will run Android, meaning RIM’s new operating system will go head-to-head with Apple and Google offerings in tablets as well. [via Wall Street Journal]

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