BlackBerry maker reportedly developing workaday iPad rival

By Hugo Miller
Bloomberg News / August 20, 2010

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TORONTO — Research In Motion Ltd. is turning to technology used in BMW audio systems and the US Army’s Crusher tank as it tries to distinguish its new tablet computer from Apple Inc.’s iPad, say three people familiar with the plans.

The tablet will run on software developed by QNX Software Systems, which RIM bought from Harman International Industries Inc. for $200 million in April, said the people, who did not want to be identified because the plans have not been made public. QNX’s software is used in products from companies including Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co., and Caterpillar Inc.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is racing to introduce its tablet as rivals debut similar devices that fill the gap between smartphones and laptops. By using QNX technology, RIM could take advantage of the independent software developers who create applications for QNX and build on the popularity of its BlackBerry smartphone with corporate customers.

“The iPad is very much a device for consuming,’’ said Alkesh Shah, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. in New York. “What’s not out there is a tablet for creating, for production.’’

RIM plans to call the tablet BlackPad, one person said in July. RIM acquired the Internet rights to last month, according to the Whois database of domain names.

Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for RIM, declined to comment.

QNX software helps control the music, media, and navigation systems in cars. The technology is also used in cardiac monitoring systems, nuclear power plants, and weapons systems.

The Crusher is an unmanned vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center for the Army in 2006.

It navigates with the help of a computer running QNX’s Neutrino software.

. . . RIMM . . .
Research In Motion Ltd.