Blackberry tablet 'to launch next week'

Research In Motion may use a developers' conference next week to announce plans for a tablet computer to compete with Apple's iPad and Amazon's, the Wall Street Journal said yesterday.

RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone, has been widely expected to join the tablet market this year with a product dubbed BlackPad. RIM recently claimed the domain name, fueling the speculation.

Tablet computers fill a niche between smartphones and laptops. Most models lack a keyboard but enable users to download books and video, browse the Internet and send email.

The newspaper, citing unidentified people familiar with RIM's plans, said the device will have a 7-inch touchscreen, one or two cameras and Bluetooth and broadband connections. It will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone.

RIM will use a completely new operating system built by QNX Software Systems, the newspaper said.

RIM bought QNX earlier this year. QNX's open platform operating system is deployed across multiple business sectors including automotive, industrial, telecommunications, medical, defense, and aerospace.

The RIM tablet is being manufactured by Quanta Computer Inc. of Taiwan, and will run on semiconductors from Santa Clara, California-based Marvell Technology Group Inc., the Journal said, citing people familiar with the tablet's manufacturing.

A spokeswoman for RIM declined to comment on the tablet device when contacted by Reuters on Tuesday.

But company executives have said the DevCon event, traditionally focused on RIM's community of developers, will provide insights into the company's strategic direction.

DevCon takes place in San Francisco from September 27-30.

Korea's Samsung Electronics is one of the latest entrants to the tablet market, having struck deals with four U.S. carriers to begin selling a tablet running on Google's Android operating system during the coming holiday season.