Chatter about a BlackBerry Tablet has really ramped up in recent days, with Research in Motion (RIM) doing little to stop the gossip swirling.
The new device is purported to pack a 1Ghz processor, a seven-inch touchscreen, Flash 10.1 and, crucially, dual cameras. The latter will be key in differentiating it from Apple’s iPad and giving it traction in a business market in which Apple has little interest in breaking, with the iPad at least.
So, what about a release date? Originally, talk was that this slab of cellular gold would not be out until 2011. But one analyst, Ashok Kumar, renowned for mobile industry insights, has said that he expects RIM to release the BlackBerry Tablet by the end of 2010 - a move which would doubtless give it plenty to shout about in the all-important run-up to Christmas.
RIM is not in a parlous position by any sense. It still sits near the top end of the smartphone sales charts and its phones are popular amongst hardcore work types and kids who can’t get enough of BlackBerry Messenger.
But by the same token there’s no denying that BlackBerry is a brand that has suffered as iOS and Android have grown in stature. The latter pair’s design and app skills have, not to mention looks, have left BlackBerry’s OS looking a tad tired. That’s being fixed by BlackBerry OS 6, but getting a tablet out this year would send a clear signal that RIM is ready to battle it out on all fronts.
Check out BlackBerry OS 6 in action in the clip below
The dual cameras could give it a real advantage over the iPad, while the inclusion of a smaller panel and media skills to match would really make it a decent alternative. A BlackBerry's media skills are oft-overlooked but really are sharp, especially when it comes to music and video.
Get the BlackBerry Tablet out ahead of Christmas and RIM have something that ‘the kids’ will want to brag about and businesses will be clamouring over thanks to RIM’s background and its rumoured video conferencing skills.
There is a fine balance to be struck, however. The rush release of the truly disappointing BlackBerry Storm should be a lesson in how not to get these things out there. If RIM can learn from that mistake and get the tech working perfectly first time around then it has a chance to maybe put a dent into Apple’s domination of the tablet market, although toppling it will be another matter entirely.
Leave it to 2011 though and immediately RIM faces issues. Apple is already said to be working on the iPad 2, with two Mini versions being hotly tipped by Far East sources. If the BlackBerry Tablet lands any later, it will look dated, especially if Apple loads its new model up with cameras and FaceTime. Plus, by then MeeGo and Chrome OS tablets will be out on the streets. RIM needs to strike fast if it wants to get the recognition it richly deserves.