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RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch

Research in Motion 2012 product plans point to a September launch for its BlackBerry 10 platform and two more tablets, says a leaked roadmap.

Research In Motion said that its BlackBerry 10 platform wouldn't launch until close to the end of 2012, and a leaked roadmap appears to show a somewhat more hopeful timing for that debut. The first BlackBerry 10 handset is expected to arrive sometime in September, according to the roadmap. Details about the phone itself are sparse. September is better than November or December.

Reports late last year suggested that RIM cancelled plans to develop several prototype BlackBerry 10 smartphones and is instead concentrating its efforts on a single device with the codename "London." If RIM needs to do anything this year, it is to bring one flagship device to market. It hasn't had a white-hot smartphone in years, and the company badly needs to storm back into the smartphone market with an Android- and iPhone-killer. It is possible that the company can do this with its next-generation platform.

The leaked roadmap also suggests that RIM is working on not one, but two, new tablet computers. (Palm-forehead.)

The first device is being called the "3G+ PlayBook" and will reportedly street in April with a seven-inch display. This device will be an upgraded version of the current model, though specific improvements weren't detailed. The second device will have a 10-inch display and will support Long Term Evolution 4G. It is due to arrive in December.

An April arrival of an upgraded seven-inch PlayBook makes sense, as that will mark one year from the launch of the original PlayBook. The original PlayBook launched with support only for Wi-Fi. It was supposed to gain LTE 4G support and WiMax support by September 2011. It never did, and Sprint and Verizon Wireless eventually canned plans to sell such a device. It looks like RIM decided against adding those elements to the current hardware.

Reports of a 10-inch tablet from RIM surfaced as long as a year ago. I'd argue that RIM needs to drop its focus on both tablets right now and instead devote all its resources to BlackBerry 10. Even so, a 10-inch tablet could give RIM a better chance to target Apple's iPad.

Both devices will run PlayBook OS 2.0, which RIM previewed at CES last week. The new tablet software adds support for email, contacts, and calendar, as well as support for the Android Market. In the demonstrations I saw, it was evident that RIM still has a bit of work to do on these features. The software is expected to become available for the current PlayBook by the end of February.

Also on deck for the end of February: A preview of BlackBerry 10. RIM is expected to show off early builds of BB10--which itself is a merged version of BlackBerry 7 and PlayBook OS--at the Mobile World Congress trade show scheduled to begin February 27.

RIM has a lot of hard work to do this year, but this information suggests that RIM has a workable schedule in place.

RIM has not confirmed the details of these leaks.

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