The rumor mill was spinning this morning with reports that Research In Motion (RIM) could launch a tablet as early as next week.

Citing unnamed people familiar with RIM's plans, The Wall Street Journal said the "BlackPad" tablet and its new operating system could debut at its developer conference next week.

The BlackPad is reportedly slated for release in the fourth quarter of this year and will feature a 7-inch touchscreen and up to two cameras, but it will only connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry device.

The report also claimed that the tablet would use an operating system built by RIM's recently acquired QNX Software Systems instead of BlackBerry 6.

RIM has faced heavy criticism from analysts who say the company's devices aren't competing well with the iPhone or smartphones based on Google's Android operating system.

The company recently launched the BlackBerry Torch with its new BlackBerry 6 operating system, but the phone was met with lukewarm reviews by the tech press.

RIM's device shipments rose 30 percent in the most recent quarter, and the company beat its earnings and sales profits, helping to deflect criticism from the investment community.