In the past, Blackberry makers Research In Motion have had questionable success in updating their handsets to be competitive in a post-iPhone world, but that’s not about to stop them from challenging Apple’s iPad: the company is expected to debut their own 7-inch tablet at next week’s RIM Developer Conference.
Rumored to be named the BlackPad, RIM’s iPad-clone is expected to run some variation of the the QNX operating system instead of their own Blackberry OS 6. At 7 inches, the BlackPad would be closer to the (still untested at market) form factor of the Samsung Galaxy Tab than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display, and would likely be similar to the Galaxy Tab in other key specs as well, such as dual camera capability.
Interestingly, sources speaking to the WallStreet Journal say that RIM is going a curious direction when it comes to 3G: the only way you will be able to access cellular networks on a BlackPad is by tethering it to a BlackBerry smartphone.
That’s a curious choice, to say the last. On the one hand, it does obviously give the BlackPad an advantage in that it runs off of the same data subscription as your BlackBerry cellphone… but it also completely eliminates the BlackPad as an option for consumers who aren’t already drinking the BlackBerry Kool-Aid.
At the end of the day, the BlackPad — like the BlackBerry — will be aimed at business customers over consumers, which aims it at a different market than the iPad entirely. Even so, though, early reports make the BlackPad seem a risky investment: a smaller device in an unproven size with an unproven operating system that can only be used to its fullest by existing Blackberry subscribers.