BlackBerry 9800 due soon, tablet by end of 2010

Posted on June 14, 2010


RIM’s BlackBerry 9800 and its tablet companion won’t come side by side but could together bet available this year, insiders said this evening with a handful of new details [sub. required]. The 9800, a multi-touch QWERTY slider, was already known to be shipping before the end of the summer but should have a device-wide search as one of its BlackBerry OS 6.0 features. Most put it on AT&T’s network and tentatively as soon as June, although the iPhone 4 launch on June 24 makes July or August more likely.

The tablet in turn has been characterized by the WSJ and is considered more of a slave device than a real tablet like the iPad. It should draw on the BlackBerry’s 3G connection to get online and will mostly provide a larger view. RIM is purportedly “experimenting” with the design, but it could ship as soon as the end of the year if the company goes ahead. An 8.9-inch screen is a probable feature.

Either may be important to RIM’s future but not necessarily effective at offsetting the company’s sagging phone market share performance. In spite of still leading the US smartphone market and being second place worldwide, it has been losing ground as Apple and Google have drawn customers away. The 9800’s five-megapixel camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi and multi-touch at best put it even, and it lacks advantages such as a front video camera, ultra-high resolution screen or a large amount of built-in storage.

RIM has similarly been hesitant to enter into tablets. Its co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has cautioned that RIM didn’t want to see a tablet as just a notebook replacement and implied that any tablet would have to serve an extra purpose. The decision would keep the BlackBerry OS out of contention among true tablets, where Android is the most significant opponent to the iPad.

By Electronista Staff

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