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Summary:

Talk about a BlackBerry companion tablet has gained traction with a new report that such a slate device is indeed in the works. A BlackBerry with a sliding keyboard is also planned that would be a game-changer for RIM in the smartphone space.

BB Storm

Speculation about a BlackBerry companion tablet has gained added traction today with the WSJ reporting that such a slate device from RIM is indeed in the works. RIM is also said to be working on a phone with a sliding QWERTY keyboard. An updated web browser in the next OS version coupled with a good keyboard might bring back some customers who have deserted the BlackBerry for the competition.

The touchscreen-sliding keyboard combo is a new approach for RIM, but one the upcoming OS version 6 would utilize to full advantage. RIM has attempted a large touchscreen BlackBerry in the past, but it failed to take the world by Storm. This new model could be a game-changer, though, as it would compete with touchscreen phones like the iPhone 4 yet add a keyboard for which the BlackBerry is famous.

The other device RIM is said to be developing, the tablet, is a strange beast, as it’s designed to act as a companion device for a BlackBerry phone — essentially a second screen for activities undertaken on the phone. This puts it in the realm of the ill-fated Palm Foleo, which was killed just weeks before launch. The resistance to a $500 device that required another one (smartphone) to do anything caused Palm to drop plans for the Foleo. This BlackBerry tablet sounds like the same type of device, but without the keyboard found on the Foleo.

While consumer interest in the tablet is unclear, the new BlackBerry phone may be a good product for RIM given the popularity of using smartphones to access the web. The large screen coupled with a big keyboard would make this the best BlackBerry for surfing the web. Timing on the release of these products is unknown at this point, but perhaps we’ll see them by the end of the year. RIM has stated that a new phone with a new web browser and OS 6 will ship by September, so perhaps these new devices will appear then.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

  1. A touch screen smartphone plus a keyboard =
    platypus

    This will only put Blackberry further behind.

    If your touch screen is really good, why have the additional weight and bulk of a pull out keyboard?

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  2. Jacob Varghese Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    RIM has an opportunity with consumers that they are quickly floundering. The Blackberries are seen as strictly corporate devices which has historically worked for them, but Apple is now finding some success in that market.
    IMO, they should have purchased Palm and do a complete redesign to a much more user-oriented UI.
    Sadly, I see RIM going the way of Palm in about 3 years. Maybe they’re better off being a services company?

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  3. I don’t think this will be a winner…Most consumers,dont like to have extra bulk (keyboard) on their mobiles. Personally I would definitely be a user… technologically advanced is what i prefer.

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  4. Andrea Favale Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    whoever thought of a tablet that requires a phone to work is an idiot – and consumers will punish them.
    Get me a good tablet that automatically sync with my blackberry but it’s also independent and I’ll buy it for sure; if it requires the phone to connect I’ll tell everybody I know it’s shit.
    People want flexibility, not lock in – when are these companies going to understand?

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  5. There had been many ongoing rumours, about the Blackberry phones, some say they would completely move to touch phones, some say, that they would stick to their properitory QWERTY.

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  6. No.

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  7. I believe the BlackBerry 9800 device may be a winner. The Motorola Droid on Verizon has sold in the millions since its release at the beginning of the year. It too has both a slide-out keyboard and a touchscreen with a virtual keyboard.

    Many current BlackBerry users (myself included) prefer the BB keyboard to a virtual touchscreen one. However surfing the web or using apps on the existing BB models is painful at best due to the smaller screen size and the lack of touch (the Storm models excepted).

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  8. I doubt it. The hot items for the next six months will be the iPhone 4, HTC Evo 4G, Droid X, Moto Droid 2, HTC Incredible and other Android phones already in the pipeline, including a confirmed 2Ghz Motorola Android phone. All these phones offer far more than anything in RIM’s lineup right now.

    They may keep their business side market, but as someone noted the iPhone is making inroads there too, and Android should begin denting that as well. Unless RIM changes something drastically, they are going to end up being the Palm of 2011.

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