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RIM's iPad Competitor Starts Sounding Real, Has Flash Built In

RIM tablet

The iPad is selling like the proverbial hotcakes, and there's a distinct lack of competitors emerging to challenge its dominance right now ... but it's just been all but confirmed that RIM has a BlackBerry-based tablet on the way.

Rumors about the BlackBerry tablet aren't new, but the latest crop have been unusually detailed. The recent leak about an 7-inch design, with a 1-GHz processor, from Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar prompted BetaNews to chase one of their sources that's "close" to RIM. The source admitted that Kumar's leak was pretty much on the button, and added some more nuggets of information.

So here's what the device is like:

  • A 7-inch screen
  • A 1-GHz Marvell processor
  • Supports Adobe Flash tech
  • Hardware-based Flash acceleration
  • Two cameras—one front-facing, one rear—for video calling purposes

BetaNews is guessing that the new device's OS will be like the iPad's—a customized, but essentially similar version to the company's smartphone OS. And from this assumption, they're guessing we can get some clues about the OS itself from a recently released preview about BlackBerry OS6.

Does this amount to an iPad-challenger tablet? Possibly. With that screen size it's not quite in the same class, and really would seem to be a souped-up BlackBerry. Its processor power may well rival the iPad's, and inclusion of Flash tech from the outset will really position it in competition to Apple's no-Flash policy, and that may appeal to some consumers. The inclusion of cameras is also interesting, and although it's extremely plausible that the next-gen iPad will have at least one camera, the BlackBerry tablet will definitely have the lead here.

Or will it? Earlier rumors suggested a December launch, but the new leak threw some doubt on this date ... and if RIM launches the device early in 2011, it'll only be a scant few months before we expect iPad 2.0 to arrive. That'll put a big dent in RIM's plans, particularly as there's lots of evidence of businesses rapidly adopting the iPad, and this is RIM's traditional marketplace.

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.