Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar is reporting that the BlackBerry Cobalt, a work-in-progress tablet that we’ve heard rumblings about here and there, was originally planned to run Android, but RIM decided to have a go with their own operating system, resulting in a delayed launch while they adapted the software for the new form factor. Although Hon Hei was the supposed source of the Cobalt’s 8.9″ display, Quanta will be the manufacturing partner for the whole device, which will be packing Marvell’s Armada processor.
How cool would it have been if RIM made an Android tablet? If all of the data is just getting shunted over from a proper BlackBerry, then a lot of the back-end hooks (service books, PIN, BES, etc.) wouldn’t be needed on a tablet. On top of that, the Cobalt would have been able to enjoy a much better selection of third-party apps and smoother user interface, while still having world-class e-mail and PIM. Alas, RIM is more interested in showing that their new BlackBerry operating system can compete just fine.
Keep in mind that everything said up to this point regarding RIM’s tablet is complete hearsay, so take it all with a grain of salt. Supposedly, the Cobalt will act as a companion device to standard BlackBerrys, syncing data over Wi-Fi and 3G, and targeting a consumer audience. There was also talk that the device would be subsidized by some kind of advertising, but for now, that rumour is neither here nor there. Given the current market with Apple enjoying success with the iPad, development Android tablets well underway, and HP buying Palm, hinting at a webOS version of the Slate, it makes sense that RIM provide some product in this form factor, but as soon as you think of “companion device”, you can’t help but think of the Foleo. With any luck, RIM will implement the concept better than Palm did, if they’re working on a companion tablet at all.