RIM's BlackBerry 7 a simple OS 6.1 rebadge?

RIM may be closer to releasing BlackBerry 7, its new mobile OS, sooner than we thought, though it's not quite the software revolution we were hoping for. According to CrackBerry's sources, RIM intends to launch BlackBerry 6 at its BlackBerry World 2011 event next week; however, rather than being the QNX-based smartphone platform rumored before, it's expected to be a more straightforward rebrand of what has, until now, been known as BlackBerry 6.1.

BlackBerry 6.1 had been expected to make its debut on devices like the BlackBerry Touch and the Torch 2, offering functionality like mobile hotspot, visual voicemail and NFC. BlackBerry 7, meanwhile, was to be the company's transition to QNX, as runs on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

What the name change means is still unclear. It's speculated that RIM is looking to make more of a splash with the OS alongside whatever new hardware it brings to the show next week, and thought BB7 sounded better than BB6.1. Alternatively, it could be looking to better distinguish between the new devices and older handsets, potentially meaning owners of existing BlackBerry phones might not get BlackBerry 7. Whatever RIM has decided, SlashGear will be at BlackBerry World next week to bring back all the details.