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BlackBerry maker readies rival for iPad

By Hugo Miller
Bloomberg News / July 31, 2010

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TORONTO — Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, plans to introduce a tablet computer in November to compete with Apple Inc.’s iPad, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans.

The device will have roughly the same dimensions as the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen, said the two people who wouldn’t be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. The device will include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology that will allow people to connect to the Internet through their BlackBerry smartphones, the two people said.

RIM is racing to come out with a product to rival the iPad in the fast-growing market for devices that bridge the gap between smartphones and notebook computers. Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., last month said it sold 3 million iPad tablet computers in 80 days after they debuted in the United States.

“They can’t wait for a second generation of devices from Apple or they’ll fall too far behind,’’ said Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Rodman & Renshaw Inc. in New York.

Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for RIM, declined to comment, citing company policy not to comment on rumor or speculation.

RIM plans to call the tablet Blackpad, according to one of the people familiar with the company’s plans. RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, acquired the Internet rights to blackpad.com this month, according to the Whois database of domain names.

Pricing for the device will be in line with the iPad, which starts at $499, the person said. RIM is focused on reaping additional profits from the tablet effort, rather than competing on price to sell a large number of devices, the person said.

RIM is stepping up its competition with Apple on multiple fronts. The company is hosting an event in New York on Tuesday at which it will debut its BlackBerry 9800 slider phone, according to one person familiar with its plans. The device will feature a full touchscreen like Apple’s iPhone and a slideout Qwerty keyboard to allow for easy e-mail typing, the person said.

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