With the important BlackBerry 6.0 update coming soon, will Research In Motion, as widely expected, take a big leap into the tablet game?
Research In Motion still hasn't announced the exact release date for its BlackBerry 6.0 OS, but several more details about 6.0 and BlackBerry Protect, a new BlackBerry recovery tool, are now known.
Along with an updated interface, BlackBerry 6.0 promises kinetic scrolling, multi-touch support, social media widgets and other new features. The Canadian smartphone maker first teased Blackberry 6.0 at its WES 2010 conference this spring, and on Monday RIM posted a video to its official YouTube account and BlackBerry blog rounding up the changes.
Andrew Bocking, RIM's vice president of handheld software product management, writes in the blog post that he's "never been as excited about a BlackBerry software launch as I am for BlackBerry 6," which according Bocking will arrive sometime this summer.
"I also think the wide range of changes and added features in BlackBerry 6 will attract a lot of new users to the BlackBerry platform," Bocking adds.
Among the major changes to BlackBerry 6.0 are the redesigned home screen, universal search options, and the updated Web browser, which according to RIM is powered by the open-source Webkit. The new browser can maintain back-forward lists, collect history of visited pages, search, bookmark, pinch-zoom and tab Web pages. Blackberry OS 6 also has a universal search bar and a text magnifier.
Elsewhere is BlackBerry Protect, which according to RIM will be available later this year and will be ready for beta test by the end of this week for BlackBerry Beta Zone users. Some of the main features include remote backup, remote data wiping, remote lockdown and lost-and-found messages, as well as device restore and the ability to pinpoint a missing BlackBerry via Web interface and map.
Will RIM add to its BlackBerry upgrades with a tablet? A RIM tablet has been long rumored, and earlier this week, BetaNews quoted a source "close to RIM" as saying the tablet will have a 7-inch touch screen, a 1 Ghz Marvell processor, dual webcams and support for Adobe Flash. Those are the same specs cited by Rodman & Renshaw Analyst Ashok Kumar, who mentioned them in a research note late last week concerning RIM's potential tablet.
A December release date for the BlackBerry tablet is rumored, but some are already speculating that any tablet from BlackBerry now -- especially following Apple's popular iPad and Cisco's just-announced business device Cius -- will be fighting an uphill battle. A number of solution providers see business-oriented devices like the Cius as having potential for channel sales in enterprise, but several observers have also noted that the rush to make tablets may leave latecomers, like RIM, shorthanded.