BlackBerry CEO: Tablets Have No Future

Thorsten Heins says he doesn't think anyone will still be using tablets five years from now.
5 Apple iPad 5 Wishes
5 Apple iPad 5 Wishes
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BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins recently offered a baffling perspective on the tablet market: He thinks it is a dead-end business. In fact, he sees tablets going away entirely before the end of the decade.

"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," said Heins in an interview with Bloomberg. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."

Heins has already shot down reports that BlackBerry itself would build a new tablet this year, or at any time in the future, unless there was a good business case for it. Heins said tablets aren't a good business for BlackBerry to be in. At the moment, he's right. BlackBerry needs, more than anything, to focus on resurrecting sales of its BlackBerry smartphones. So far, sales of the Z10 have been lukewarm in the U.S., though the Q10 appears to be seeing solid early sales, at least at one store in the U.K.

[ Where do the new BlackBerry models fit on this spectrum: 10 Best And Worst Cellphones Of All Time? ]

Heins' stance on tablets is the complete opposite of that of his predecessors, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who championed the BlackBerry Playbook as the best tablet on the market, even though it didn't offer email at launch. The PlayBook is one of BlackBerry's most visible failures. It's understandable that Heins might feel burned by tablets, but he is either ignoring or turning a blind eye toward the latest research on the tablet market.

Strategy Analytics reports sales of 40.6 million tablets during the first quarter of 2013 alone, which represents year-over-year growth of 117%. At this pace, tablet vendors are on track to sell more than 160 million tablets by the end of the year. They'll sell more if the growth rate continues to climb.

Apple, the one company that has done the most to damage BlackBerry's position in the enterprise, sold 19.5 million iPads in the first three months of the year.

How many BlackBerrys did Thorsten's company sell during the first quarter? A hair over one million? Maybe. Thorsten has an answer for that, too.

"In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing -- that's what we're aiming for," said Heins. "I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat."

That assumes the company sells enough Z10s and Q10s to stay afloat that long. The Z10 hit world markets in early February and reached the U.S. in March. The Q10 hit Canada and the U.K. last week, and reaches the U.S. toward the end of May. BlackBerry needs the Q10, its QWERTY-equipped smartphone, to sell like gangbusters to stave off solid market entries such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

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