According to the Wall Street Journal, RIM has a couple of interesting new BlackBerry products in the works, including a vertical slider with a touchscreen interface and a companion tablet.
The smartphone has been long rumored, even coming with its own code number (the 9800) and a few leaked photos. The vertical slider design is, in my opinion, an underused smartphone form factor. I much prefer the smaller keys, as my clumsy thumbs have a shorter distance to move while typing, than in the more common landscape slider (as in the Motorola Droid and Sidekick phones).
The WSJ says the phone will run a new version of the long-stagnant BlackBerry OS that “works much like an iPhone,” with swiping gestures and a more visual user interface. The piece also repeats the rumor we’ve previously heard about a universal search bar as seen in Android and Palm WebOS. That matches what we’ve previously heard about the upcoming BlackBerry 6.0.
The tablet is a new one, though, and an interesting beast. Reading between the lines, it’s much earlier in the development cycle than the new smartphone, and might be sold as less a standalone device and more a companion device to a BlackBerry smartphone.
The only concrete rumor about this mysterious tablet is that it would rely on a BlackBerry smartphone’s mobile Internet connection for its own connectivity, meaning it won’t have its own internal wireless. That’s an odd choice–presumably it has at least Wi-Fi, but restricting mobile internet access to a tethered BlackBerry could also reduce the potential market.
The BlackBerry vertical slider, probably numbered the 9800, will see release in 2010. The tablet may or may not follow next year.