Report: RIM BlackBerry Curve To Drop Keypad

Online rumours have reported that RIM’s next BlackBerry Curve will be all touch-screen

Research In Motion’s next Curve will be touch-screen only, according to specs leaked on a BlackBerry rumour blog.

The Canadian company, currently fighting to maintain its share of the smartphone market in the face of fierce competition from the Apple iPhone and Google Android, is staying firmly tight-lipped about news of upcoming products. During a recent meeting with eWEEK, for example, executives responded with a firm “no comment” to questions about the BlackBerry Dakota, a smartphone in development that supposedly combines a physical QWERTY keyboard with a touch-screen.

Roadmap mystery

RIM’s reluctance to share details of its devices and roadmap, however, has done little to stop the constant flow of rumours and speculation on blogs such as Crackberry, which posted details on 27 January about the so-called “Curve Touch”. Reportedly due on store shelves in the “late 2011/early 2012” timeframe, the Curve Touch’s unconfirmed specs include a 3.25-inch display with 480 x 360 resolution, 5-megapixel camera, Qualcomm MSM 8655 800MHz processor and Wi-Fi capability.

Design-wise, the Curve Touch’s hardware – at least based on an image posted on Crackberry – resembles nothing so much as an iPhone or Droid mated with the BlackBerry Curve. But as with any rumour that bounces around the echo chamber of the Internet, until RIM confirms something definite, any such designs should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nonetheless, rumours about RIM’s future products are contributing to the theme of a company in drastic transition. Anxious to establish a presence in the tablet market, the company is prepping its 7-inch PlayBook for reported launch in a few weeks – complete with an all-new operating system from software assets acquired during its April 2010 takeover of QNX Software Systems from Harman International.

RIM executives have suggested that the QNX-based operating system will eventually find its way onto BlackBerry smartphones, the latest of which run BlackBerry OS 6.

BlackBerry-Android crossover

On top of that, still other rumours suggest that RIM, in a bid to appeal to the developer community, is considering ways for Android applications to run on BlackBerry devices.

“The company has publicly stated that it is looking at getting a Java virtual machine running on the PlayBook – not so much for app development going forward, but for legacy support, custom apps corporations have deployed and don’t want to recreate, etc.,” the blog Boy Genius Report posted on 26 January. “We have been told RIM is very much considering the Dalvik virtual machine, and we ultimately expect the company to choose Dalvik.”

The Dalvik virtual machine factors heavily in the running of Android applications, and its presence on RIM’s software platforms would theoretically translate into support for those applications – once the inevitable developer, security and corporate concerns have been addressed.

However, a RIM spokesperson told eWEEK in a 26 January email: “It’s RIM standard policy not to comment on rumours and speculation.”

Embracing Android applications would put RIM’s application library on par with that of Apple’s App Store. Along with a touch-screen-only phone, that would intensify RIM’s competition with the iPhone and Google Android smartphones – but until RIM starts making official announcements, its roadmap remains largely unclear.