RIM's Research & Development team is obviously hard at work - there has been a ton of patent applications hitting publication of late, many for various designs and layouts of BlackBerry device models. We've seen angled keyboards, touchscreen devices and now you're looking at image from the patent app for a Slider BlackBerry.
Here's a paragraph from the abstract for “HYBRID PORTRAIT-LANDSCAPE HANDHELD DEVICE WITH TRACKBALL NAVIGATION AND QWERTY HIDE-AWAY KEYBOARD”
A device is disclosed for use in two different orientations. In one orientation, the keyboard is exposed to the user. This orientation is named the landscape orientation because the device will be positioned such that its width is larger than its height. The user would opt for the landscape orientation for tasks that require the keyboard, such as inputting data, drafting emails, sending emails, and other functions typically associated with a standard computer. The other orientation is named the portrait orientation because the device will be positioned such that its height is larger than its width. In addition, the keyboard is not used in this orientation and therefore hidden away. The user would opt for the portrait orientation for tasks such as making and receiving telephone calls and for reading documents and emails. The device detects the orientation positioned by the user and modifies the elements shown on the display screen so that they are presented in the correct orientation to the user.
I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I know a lot of people love the "slider" devices, but if you remember my experiences with the AT&T Tilt from the Smartphone Round Robin you'll recall I wasn't one of them. As silly as it sounds, there were just too many ways to hold/use the darn thing, and it wasn't a one-handed device (which is what I love about my BlackBerry and dislike about pretty much every other smartphone).
I think the reason why the BlackBerry and now the iPhone are so successful is that there's really only one way to hold/use the device. Throw in too many options and the new user experience gets thrown out the door. Though I could easily be proven wrong in this case - I trust RIM's engineers, and I do see a trackball on this baby, so maybe it would rock! At least unlike the Tilt, I'm pretty sure a BlackBerry slider would NOT include a stylus. One thing is for certain though... it looks like RIM is really going try and leverage their brand to design a wide range of devices that appeal to everyone!