WSJ: RIM slate could be out by year's end

Well, wouldn't you know it: according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is quietly developing a slate device. The Journal heard that a fresh BlackBerry handset with a slide-out keyboard and a new operating system are also in the works at the Canadian firm.

"People familiar with RIM's plans" reportedly claim the BlackBerry slate is "in an early stage of development," although we may actually see it in stores as soon as the end of the year. Word is that you'll be able to connect a BlackBerry handset to it in order to get cellular connectivity. That sounds like tethering—a novel approach for sure. Apple's iPad comes in flavors with and without 3G support, and the former costs an extra $130 over the latter. (You can't add 3G support to the Wi-Fi-only iPad, either.)

As for the phone, the WSJ reports RIM has officially disclosed plans to ship a new handset with a new OS and web browser by September 30. Sources "familiar with the device" say the OS will have multi-touch functionality, allowing users to swipe through different screens and pinch to zoom images, as well as a universal search bar a la Google's Android.

Unfortunately, the WSJ report doesn't say explicitly what kind of hardware or software the upcoming BlackBerry slate will have. If RIM follows in the same footsteps as Apple and runs a version of its phone software on the device, though, that could imply ARM-based guts.

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