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Leaked roadmap shows off BlackBerry's new iPad competitor, phablet

Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry appears to be readying another go at the tablet sector, as an image purporting to be a leaked product roadmap shows a potential iPad competitor slated for a late 2013 release.

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(via @BB10Leaks)

The supposed product roadmap appeared Friday in a tweet from @BB10Leaks (via TechnoBuffalo) and appears to show BlackBerry's forthcoming products through the second quarter of 2014. In addition to the already released Z10 and its hardware QWERTY keyboard sporting counterpart, the Q10, the roadmap shows a tablet, a phablet, and a phablet-esque device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard of its own.

The iPad competitor appears to be named the B10. The roadmap gives no details on its dimensions or specifications, but it looks to be a large tablet in the vein of Google's Nexus 10 and Apple's full-size iPads. Should the device materialize, it would represent BlackBerry's second attempt at breaking into the tablet segment.

The Canadian manufacturer previously released a 7-inch PlayBook tablet, meant to provide enterprise-minded customers with a more portable alternative to Apple's iPad, which dominated the tablet segment then as it does now. Poor software implementation and developer support, though, doomed the PlayBook to sluggish sales even as Apple's tablet moved to greater heights. Eventually, then-RIM's inventory of unsold PlayBook units caused the company to take a $485 million charge.

With the launch of BlackBerry 10, though, the manufacturer has seen encouraging signs. BlackBerry's most recent financial figures revealed one million Z10's shipped since the device's launch in February. That, in combination with drastic cost reductions, led to BlackBerry's first profitable quarter in some time.

A new tablet would help flesh out the range of devices BlackBerry offers, making it a more capable alternative for customers looking outside of Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Speaking earlier in March, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company would have to do something "really substantial and meaningful... [and] profitable as well," if it were to enter the tablet space again.

"I think the profit pool is very, very thin," Heins told the Australian Financial Review. "Kudos to Apple, I think they really managed to own that space, so it doesn't make sense for me to just take this head on. I need to figure out, for my enterprise customers, for my consumers, for my BB10 audience, what can I do that provides them a mobile computing experience in the form factor of a tablet, which goes beyond just the puristic tablet experience."

Should the leaked roadmap prove accurate, BlackBerry's tablet will see release some time in either the third or fourth quarter of 2013. It would be followed shortly thereafter by a large-screened BlackBerry 10 device, apparently dubbed the U10. That device — likely a "phablet" in the vein of Samsung's Galaxy Note II — may be the rumored Aristo device that surfaced late last year. Following the phablet's release, another large-screened model would follow quickly thereafter, this one sporting a hardware QWERTY keyboard much like BlackBerry's forthcoming Q10.