BlackBerry tablet may appear next week, report says

Research In Motion could unveil a new tablet product next week and start selling it in the fourth quarter

Research in Motion may introduce a tablet computer next week, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Persistent rumors over the past few months have pointed to a BlackBerry tablet that would aim to compete with Apple's popular iPad.

The Journal, citing unnamed "RIM insiders," provides some details of what such a tablet might look like. The device will have a 7-inch touchscreen and one or two built-in cameras, the report says.

It will not connect directly to cellular networks; users will have to connect through their BlackBerry devices instead. But the tablet will come with a "broadband connection," the Journal says, presumably Wi-Fi.

Apple's iPad comes in two configurations: one with cellular and Wi-Fi, the other with just Wi-Fi.

Instead of the new BlackBerry 6 operating system, the tablet will run new software developed by QNX Software Systems, a company RIM purchased earlier this year, the Journal says.

An announcement could come at the BlackBerry Devcon conference in San Francisco next week, with devices shipping in the fourth quarter, the Journal reported.

RIM declined to comment on what it called "rumors and speculation."

RIM lost its number-one position among smartphone makers in the U.S. to Android recently, according to research from Canalys. It has also struggled to keep up with cutting-edge competitors like Apple and Google. The recently released Torch, built on a new BlackBerry operating system, was meant to help BlackBerry regain its leadership position, but some reports say it hasn't sold well.

Since Apple launched the iPad, many other hardware makers have been racing to release a competitive product. Apple sold more than 3 million iPads in the first three months it was on the market.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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