The rumor mill has just been spun up to maximum revs by the Wall Street Journal: The venerable publication thinks RIM's ready to reveal its BlackBerry-based tablet PC (destined to rival the iPad) as soon as next week.
Here's what the WSJ suggests: RIM's been feverishly working on the device, and has polished it up to the point it's ready for a public showing. An ideal venue would be the three-day BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco next week, so that's where it'll get its first outing, according to sources inside the Canadian-based company.
The timing makes sense too, given that the furore around the iPad has begun to dip slightly (even though it's not seen a wide-scale global release yet), no big-name contender other than the Samsung Galaxy Tab has surfaced yet and the arrival of a huge number of competitors is just around the corner. It could be a perfect little window of opportunity for RIM to get the media stirred up by its device, ready to get an eager public saving up to buy one when it goes on sale at the end of 2010.
And what will these fans be buying, exactly? The WSJ has some more rumor-ish hints about the BlackPad (SurfPad?) specifications and they're ... well, they're not mind-blowing. The device will have a 7-inch screen, which won't set it apart from the hundreds of other 7-inch tablets due to arrive soon. But it will have front and rear cameras, which beats the powers of the iPad 1.0. QNX is now "confirmed" as being behind the new-flavor of OS the BlackPad will sport, which is going to be big news to existing BlackBerry clients and developers too. Oh, and though it'll have Wi-Fi support, if you want to give it some 3G mobile broadband goodness, you'll have to slave it to your existing BlackBerry smartphone.
This is certainly a ploy to leverage the millions of business users of BlackBerry's the world over—it'll appeal to technical folk, who'll see an easily compatible solution that matches their existing device list, and it'll please budget holders who'll see the benefits of no extra 3G data contracts. But will it please users, who'll get a machine that perhaps lacks some of the luster, usefulness and thousands of apps sported by its peer competing devices? Impossible to say.
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