RIM BlackPad Said to Make Real-Life Appearance Very Soon

Carriers take note: The snowball that is the coming tablet PC launch explosion might be starting to pick up some mass if the rumors are correct that Research in Motion Ltd. will finally unveil the much-anticipated BlackPad” next week.

RIM is hosting its annual Developer Conference next week, which has traditionally been a forum for C-level execs to make news with new strategy or product launches. The Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with RIMs plans” in saying the company does indeed plan to release details about its alleged iPad competitor, dubbed BlackPad by the media. That article goes on to say that the BlackPad will be released in the fourth quarter, with a completely new platform built by QNX Software Systems” as its operating system. RIM acquired QNX earlier in the year; the company developed a real-time operating system for automotive computing systems.

The WSJ also said the device would include an integrated camera and a 7-inch touchscreen. No word on carrier partners.

The field of slate computing devices is slowly widening, and any wireless or connected home pipe provider worth its salt should probably start thinking about how to leverage this so-called fourth screen” while the conversation is still wide open. Last week Korean manufacturer Samsung officially launched its slate gadget, the Tab, at an event Thursday night in New York City. The gadget will ship within a few weeks, and will be carried by AT&T Inc., Sprint-Nextel Corp., T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, which each will craft their own subsidy pricing and data-plan packages. There will also be an unlocked Wi-Fi-only version, which the company said is coming soon.”

The Samsung offering is a little smaller than the iPad, coming in at 7-inches, and it weighs about half as much. It carries about 16GB of memory, and will allow up to seven hours of continuous video playback. Unlike the Apple offering, it has a 3-megapixel, rear-facing camera on board, and a made-for-video-chat 1.3-megapixel camera on the front. It will also come with a car dock for large-screen GPS navigation and more.

It will be interesting to see how the BlackPad differentiates itself against the Samsung Tab and the iPad. One way could be its business-focused chops. A memo from Citrix that made the rounds amongst reporters recently said the company was prepared to support the upcoming BlackBerry Black Pad.”

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