Rumours of a RIM BlackPad tablet have been floating around for a couple of months, and the device could be unveiled at a developers' conference in San Francisco on Monday. The Wall Street Journal reports, in RIM Readies Its Answer to iPad, that the BlackPad will have a 7-inch screen and run the QNX operating system – RIM bought the company.
It seems that other BlackBerrys will also move to QNX, so RIM needs to get developers to support it. It’s hard to see RIM not using its BlackBerry Devcon (September 27-30) to do this.
The BlackPad will apparently have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but not a mobile phone connection, The Journal’s sources say it “will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone”. Also:
“The RIM tablet is being manufactured by Quanta Computer Inc. of Taiwan, and will run on chips from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group Inc., according to people familiar with the tablet's manufacturing.”
But it could be a tough sale. QNX appears to be a fundamentally better operating system for a tablet than either Android or Apple’s iOS, which are based on operating systems designed for different purposes. However, it’s not a market where technical merit has much value. The market looks as though it could split between relatively open (Android) and closed proprietary (iOS) in much the same way as the PC market split between Windows and Mac OS. It’s no doubt possible for three or more rivals to survive -- RIM, Nokia, Windows Phone etc. However, app developers aren’t going to provide the same level of support for the also-rans.