4 ways a RIM tablet could smoke the iPad, Galaxy Tab

Research in Motion‘s (TSE: RIM) tablet, rumored for months, is nearly official, according to the Wall Street Journal’s unnamed sources. If the report is accurate, RIM could reveal the so-called BlackPad next week during a developer conference in San Francisco.

But with Apple’s iPad dominating the tablet market unopposed, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab threatening to be the first true rival, RIM’s tablet can’t just be a pale imitation of its competitors. (Image to the left is a mock-up from the Website IntoMobile). Here are four ways the BlackPad, if it really exists, could excel:

Blackberry Messenger

One feature that both the iPad and the Galaxy Tab lack is a quick and simple way to communicate with others. Messenger could be a cornerstone of the BlackPad, allowing people to stay in touch with Blackberry phone users. Businesses who use Blackberry would love it.

Cool Software

If RIM is really using a new operating system, QNX, instead of the Blackberry OS, it won’t have much app support, if any, out of the gate. So RIM should use this as an opportunity to bundle some really great software with the device, and not just the standard e-book reader, calendar and maps that the iPad and Galaxy Tab include. I’d really like to see an advanced notetaking app that brings together text, images, video and audio and syncs them to the cloud.

Cheapness

Pardon the obvious point, but all signs point to an expensive Galaxy Tab. And while the iPad seems reasonable at US$500, the price hits US$700 if you want the most possible storage, and US$829 if you want 3G coverage. Research in Motion needs to amaze people with affordability, or otherwise think about package deals with Blackberry phones to encourage early growth and interest in the platform.

A Kickstand — No, Seriously

Is it really too much to ask that tablet makers include a built-in, simple way to prop the device upright? Sure, you can buy external stands for the iPad, but then you’ve got to carry them around, marring the device’s portability. Apple also sells the iPad sleeve that becomes a stand, but it’s a floppy, sloppy mess. If HTC could build a kickstand into its EVO 4G phone, the idea can’t be much harder to implement in a 7-inch tablet. Come on, RIM, stand up for yourself.

PC World (US)

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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