RIM BlackBerry tablet rumored for 2011

Research In Motion plans to expand from its BlackBerry line of smartphones by jumping into the tablet market with a device expected to be “smaller and thinner” than the Apple iPad.

It was rumored after the “Touch-screen Device Having Soft Escape Key” patent was discovered by the tech community.  The device is codenamed “Cobalt” or “BlackPad,” and specific hardware and software specs haven’t been released.

RIM BlackBerry tablet rumored for 2011

As noted by the diagram, the device has a touchscreen and users will use the tablet in a similar fashion as a BlackBerry smartphone.

If RIM does plan to enter the tablet market, the company has to work on several major improvements for its current RIM software.  For example, RIM needs to drastically improve its touch screen and touch-based technology, as both are rather disappointing at the moment.

RIM needs to quickly try and improve its touch technology for a possible tablet launch.  The company is known for developing smartphones with keyboards — but dabbled with touch technology due to industry pressure — but the BlackBerry Storm and BlackBerry Storm 2 still left much to be desired.

RIM has been having a more difficult time competing with Apple, HTC, Google, and other competitors in the smartphone hardware and software markets.  A study also revealed most BlackBerry owners are willing to defect to the Apple iPhone, if given the opportunity, signaling more trouble for RIM ahead.

A switch to the tablet market is a natural transition for smartphone makers, but there are still many uncertainties that need to be answered before the industry grows quickly.  Unless consumers are convinced that they’re purchasing low-cost, portable devices with rich software, they may be willing to wait for additional technology enhancements.