RIM's BlackPad Likely Using Custom OS Instead Of OS 6, But Will That Be Enough?

RIM’s upcoming tablet might come packing a brand new OS instead of a large screen version of OS 6. According to Bloomberg, three separate sources indicated that the new operating system is coming from infotanment company QNX Software Systems that RIM bought back in April. This new system allows the BlackPad — or whatever it will be called — to have a fresh OS rather than being held back by the legacy parts of OS 6.

Perhaps this news, if it’s true, shows that RIM has put a bit more work into the upcoming tablet than I previously thought. However, other details in the Bloomberg report still doesn’t sway my original opinion that the BlackPad will be an also-ran. Even a new OS won’t save the BlackPad.

Previous BlackPad rumors stated that the device will be more of a companion product than a stand-alone. Bloomberg agrees.

The BlackPad will include Wi-Fi technology so it can connect to the Internet wherever the wireless technology is available, including a home or office. When not near such Wi-Fi “hotspots,” people could connect wirelessly to their mobile phone with Bluetooth technology and then to the Internet. The device will not be able to connect directly to the cellular network the way some iPads can, two people said last month.

Maybe RIM is looking to the future and already planning future generations, but the lack of at least a 3G modem option is awful shortsighted. RIM no doubt plans on marketing its tablet to its corporate customers. Maybe even more than directly to consumers. After all, enterprise is easy money and RIM cornered that market years ago.

But without a 3G modem, the BlackPad will constantly be at the mercy of other devices. Users will either have to find a hotspot or tether to their phones to get email and the like. Don’t think for a minute that every traveling businessman processes the knowledge or patience. Users might as well carry a netbook or notebook if they have to tether.

Of course this keeps the cost down while providing the likely carrier, Verizon, another revenue source in BlackPad tethering plans.

If anything about the Torch launch showed us, it’s that RIM has sort of let their marketing flacks run amuck. The Torch is a fine device, but it’s not the end-all device that it was made out to be. The BlackPad will probably get a similar overzealous launch and advertising campaign. There’s a point when claiming a certain product is the best in its class crosses a line and sets expectations too high, ultimately setting the device up for failure. (see the BlackBerry Storm and Palm Pre)

I pray I’m wrong. Up until a few weeks ago when I bought a Droid X, I was an avid BlackBerry user and would still love to see the company have a blockbuster hit. But there hasn’t been one piece of BlackPad news that give me hope. Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Rodman & Renshaw Inc, is quoted in the Bloomberg article with saying that if the BlackPad  is “a good-enough product, [RIM] should have a fighting chance.” I can’t be the only one hoping RIM is aiming a little higher than just good enough.