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Report: RIM unveiling BlackBerry tablet next week

Research In Motion is holding a developer conference in San Francisco, where the company will introduce a new tablet powered by software from recently acquired QNX, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The BlackBerry universe looks to be expanding beyond smartphones. RIM could unveil a companion tablet next week.
The BlackBerry universe looks to be expanding beyond smartphones. RIM could unveil a companion tablet next week. CNET

The much-discussed BlackBerry tablet may finally come to fruition as soon as next week.

It's been talked about for months, but Research In Motion has yet to acknowledge that such a device exists. But today The Wall Street Journal reported that the Canadian smartphone maker may reveal its own iPad-like tablet at its developer conference in San Francisco, which starts Monday.

The Journal's unnamed sources say the device is not ready for shipping to customers, but will by sometime during the fourth quarter of this year.

The BlackBerry tablet--sometimes referred to as the "BlackPad" since RIM bought the domain blackpad.com--is said to have a 7-inch touchscreen and at least one camera, maybe two, according to the Journal. Previous reports have said the BlackPad would have a screen closer to the size of the 9.7-inch iPad.

In line with previous reports, the tablet will not have its own cellular service but will be a companion device to a BlackBerry smartphone, the newspaper reported. That means the tablet will have Wi-Fi access but will need to be tethered to a BlackBerry for a 3G connection.

Perhaps most interesting is what RIM apparently has planned on the software front. It's been reported before, but the Journal's story reiterates that the tablet won't use RIM's new BlackBerry 6 mobile OS. Instead it will use a new OS from QNX Software, a company RIM purchased earlier this year. The report says the QNX software could eventually replace the software on all RIM smartphones.

How much the device will cost is still unknown. Since it's not being sold with wireless service, it seems unlikely it would be sold through a carrier the way BlackBerrys are, and that would mean no carrier subsidy like newer tablets from Dell and Samsung have.

CNET will be at RIM DevCon next week. For more about what to expect from the event, check out our preview.