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RIM plans to counter Apple's iPad with 'Blackpad' in November


BlackBerry maker Research in Motion plans to enter the touchscreen tablet market and compete with Apple's iPad this November, when it will release the "Blackpad."

Two people familiar with the plans confirmed the product to Bloomberg, and the device will reportedly be called the "Blackpad." RIM already acquired the domain name this month.

The hardware is said to sport a 9.7-inch screen, identical to the iPad's dimensions, will also be priced similarly to Apple's touchscreen tablet, which starts at $499. It will include both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and will allow users to connect to the Internet through their BlackBerry. Apple does not currently allow iPad users to access 3G cellular data networks with their iPhone.

Sources said that RIM has no plans to undercut Apple's iPad pricing, as the company hopes to make additional profit from its tablet rather than sell a huge number of devices at a lower price.

"RIM is stepping up its competition with Apple on multiple fronts," author Hugo Miller wrote. "The company is hosting an event in New York Aug. 3 at which it will debut its BlackBerry 9800 slider phone, according to one person familiar with its plans. The device will feature a full touchscreen like Apple's iPhone and a slideout Qwerty keyboard to allow for easy e-mail typing, the person said."

The report also cited analyst Ashok Kumar with Rodman & Renshaw, who said the hardware will include front- and back-facing cameras for video conferencing. Earlier this month, Kumar told AppleInsider that Apple was planning on a hardware fix for the iPhone 4 antenna to address reception issues. At its iPhone 4 press conference, Apple did not reveal any plans for a hardware fix, and instead announced it is giving away free cases for all handset buyers through Sept. 30.

RIM's Blackpad will be one of a number of devices that aim to compete with Apple's iPad, which sold 3.27 million units in its first quarter. On Thursday, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer indicated that his company intends to have a greater presence this year in the "slate PC" market, as his company has dubbed it.

Computer maker HP also hopes to leverage its $2 billion acquisition of Palm as it releases its own tablet later this year. HP's offering will be based on the webOS mobile operating system, which is expected to hit version 2.0 later this year.

Also slated to arrive this year are tablets based on Google's Android mobile operating system. In April, The New York Times reported that the search giant was exploring the idea of creating its own touchscreen tablet that would allow users to read books and browse the Internet.