What is the RIM Blackpad?

RIM, the makers of the BlackBerry line of smartphones, is reportedly prepping an Apple iPad competitor dubbed the Blackpad.

Blackpad is allegedly the name of a new tablet computer being developed by the folks at RIM. Is the Blackpad the real deal?

Look out, Apple. RIM is on your tail. According to a new report published on Bloomberg News, RIM – the makers of the popular BlackBerry smartphone line – is readying an iPad killer provisionally called the Blackpad. Bloomberg quotes two sources "familiar with the company's plans," who say the Blackpad will resemble the iPad in size, and come equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology.

Officially, RIM has declined comment on the Blackpad. But if there's any company that might have a shot at unseating Apple it's RIM, which is also rumored to be releasing a new BlackBerry smartphone exclusive to AT&T, the same network as the Apple iPhone. Bloomberg says that RIM is hustling to get the Blackpad out by November, and estimated that the device would likely be priced starting at $499 – again, in line with the iPad.

Still, the road is likely to be a rocky one for RIM, not least because the company must live up to the precedent set by Apple. As Eric Zeman of Information Week notes, the Blackpad launch must be timed to avoid the inevitable next iteration of the Apple iPad.

"Knowing Apple and its update practices, the iPad will be overhauled next spring, with an announcement about the new device coming as early as January 2011," Zeman writes today. "RIM (and HP, LG, and Samsung) all need to field devices before Apple makes that announcement. If they don't, they risk losing additional sales to Apple."

When the iPad launched earlier this year, it received high marks for its intuitive controls, its large touchscreen display, the bevy of apps, and the appeal of its sleek, aluminum and glass design. "The iPad is an advance in making more-sophisticated computing possible via a simple touch interface on a slender, light device," wrote reviewer Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal.

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