RIM ‘BlackPad’ may launch next week

RIM’s long-awaited tablet could be launched as early as next week, at the company’s developer conference in San Francisco.

Although RIM has steadfastly refused to confirm that it’s working on anything of the sort, details have been leaking out for months. Now, the Wall Street Journal says its sources confirm these rumors.

The device – which is being referred to as the BlackPad – is expected to have a seven-inch touchscreen, and at least one camera, maybe two. It will have Wifi and Bluetooth, but not cellular service – it’ll need to be hooked up to a Blackberry for that.

It’s believed to be based on a Marvell chip, and to be manufactured by Taiwan’s Quanta Computer.

Most interestingly, perhaps, the WSJ report confirms previous rumors that the device may not use the Blackberry OS, but instead will have a completely new one developed by QNX Software, which Blackberry bought earlier this year.

Showing the device off for the first time at its developer conference could help RIM drum up enthusiasm over application development, something it’s struggled to do at times for the BlackBerry itself.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, the device won’t ship until towards the end of this year. It’s not clear how it will be sold – with no cellular service, there’s no particular reason for RIM to sell it through carriers.