Research In Motion to Launch iPad Rival: 'BlackPad'

Research In Motion (RIMM) will launch its tablet PC, unofficially called the BlackPad, as early as next week, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The product will have a seven-inch screen and the standard WiFi, 3G, and BlueTooth connection capabilities. It won't use RIM's BlackBerry 8 operating system, but rather will launch with an OS built by QNX Software Systems.

Potential customers will want to know why they should buy a RIM product instead of an Apple (AAPL) iPad or one of the new products coming to market from Samsung and a number of other handset and PC makers. The answer to that may be that RIM still has the largest share of the smartphone market in the U.S. -- 39.3% in July -- according to Comscore.

That market presence may give the Canadian company an edge over other new tablet products. And BlackBerry shipments climbed 45% to 12.1 million from a year ago, according to the company's last earnings report. RIM now has a total of 50 million subscribers.

RIM has an uphill battle against the iPad, but it does have some advantages over the other tablet companies.

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