BlackBerry unveils iPad rival Playbook

BlackBerry manufacturer RIM has unveiled its iPad rival, called the Playbook, which will target the professional market and is set to launch in the first half of next year.

The seven-inch touchscreen device was presented by RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis at the company’s developer conference Devcon 2010 in California.

The device will be RIM’s first entry into the tablet market and will run on a new operating system devised by QNX, a company RIM bought last year, as opposed to the BlackBerry OS used on its mobile phones.

“RIM set out to engineer the best professional-grade tablet in the industry, with cutting-edge hardware features and one of the world’s most robust and flexible operating systems,” said Lazaridis.

Playbook users will be able to connect to the internet via 3G through their BlackBerry mobile, unlike the iPad which requires a separate data subscription.

However, models with 3G built in are expected to roll out as the product range develops, according to the company.

The devices will also let users run multiple applications at once, something the iPad can’t currently do.

RIM will launch the devices in North America in the first quarter of next year and the international launch will follow in the second.

Speculation that it would enter the tablet market began when it emerged that RIM had purchased the domain name in July

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