Can BlackBerry light up a 'torch' and tablet in four months?

**As published at RCR Wireless News** BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. appears to be putting the final touches on its rollout plans and the accompanying marketing blitz for its latest device. The smart phone and enterprise mobility pioneer is holding an invite-only event in New York City next Tuesday where just about everyone expects it to launch a slider-style touchscreen device with a full QWERTY keyboard. Not only will the heretofore-called “9800” or “Torch” deliver what analysts and many users have been clamoring for from RIM — a large touchscreen paired with one of BlackBerry’s wildly popular keyboards — it’s also set to mark the public debut of BlackBerry 6, it’s latest operating system.

While plenty have essentially written off RIM as it faces mounting pressure from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in particular, there’s no denying the huge lead the firm has on the enterprise side. And still, despite it’s perceived bent toward business users, RIM continues to make inroads with consumers as well. With its next major product launch just days away now, it’s odd, albeit uniquely like RIM to wait so long to take the covers off its new operating system and App World update. Whereas Google and Apple are routinely making their software improvements available soon after they’re ready, RIM is waiting and hoping for one big splash to come in the form of its next device. Everyone expects BlackBerry 6 to make its debut on the new smart phone, but will the much-need App World improvements be ready in time? RIM previewed App World 2.0 in the middle of June and on Thursday it made it available as an invite-based beta in the BlackBerry Beta Zone. If it’s only getting tested in the beta waters now, it’s unlikely the new store will be ready for the masses by Tuesday. While a success in terms of downloaded apps, BlackBerry App World badly needs improvements such as credit card billing and eventually carrier billing. Latest tablet rumors Back in May, word eked out about RIM delaying its tablet plans and just about everything, including the timing, pointed to envy and concern over the popularity of Apple’s iPad. Today, word came via Bloomberg that RIM is now readying its tablet launch for November. This makes sense on at least one level because it would stand to reason that RIM can’t afford to wait for Apple to release a second generation iPad before it even jumps into the ring. Of course, RIM did just that with its first touchscreen device, the Storm, which didn’t debut until about four months after the iPhone 3G and 16 months after the first iPhone. If RIM doesn’t wow the world with a device on par with the iPad or even greater, it’s level of success in the tablet space could very well mirror the difficulty it’s had with touchscreen smart phones. Both generations of the Storm have faced tremendous problems, thanks almost entirely to the unavoidable comparisons that people make to each and every subsequent generation of the iPhone.

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