Details on RIM's BlackBerry Mobile Computing Tablet Emerge

Research in Motion is the latest firm to be rumored to be working on a tablet device, according to the blog Boy Genius Reports. If the description at BGR is to be believed -- and BGR has a pretty good record of accuracy -- then it looks like RIM is playing to the home team.

The tablet is described as coming with an 8.9-inch screen running a modified BlackBerry OS and designed to be a "companion" device to a user's BlackBerry phone. It won't have a cellular ratio built in, instead relying on a Bluetooth connection to the BlackBerry phone or a native Wi-Fi connection.

This makes it sound an awful lot like Palm's ill-fated Foleo, a Linux notebook that was meant to be a companion device to a Palm Treo phone. Palm announced the Foleo in May 2007 and killed it that September after failing to get any traction with it, not to mention some public scorn.

The BlackBerry companion tablet is said to be a multimedia-oriented device focused on e-books, e-mail, Web browsing, and photo viewing. RIM is said to be targeting a December release, although BGR added, "We are not sure why they are even trying here. Especially since RIM employees have privately voiced their frustration to us regarding this initiative."

A request for comment to RIM was not returned as of press time.

The Foleo comparison could be applicable in more ways than one, said Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies. The BlackBerry device might never make it to the market, either. "We know all these folks are doing R&D on similar products. That doesn’t mean they will hit the market, just that they are experimenting a lot. There's nothing wrong with that experimentation," he told InternetNews.com

Still, he added, the tablet doesn't sound terribly appealing. "The way it's being positioned now sounds like not only a me-too but like things that have been justifiably failed in the market," Bajarin said. "Companion computers to pocket PC have not done well at all. So it's a stretch to say something like this can walk in and be competitive when the iPad is already establishing itself as a competitor."

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Blackberry, iPad, tablet, RIM, mobile computing