updated 10:56 am EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
Heins claims big workspace screens will negatively affect tablet sales
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins believes that the future of tablets are on borrowed time, giving the hardware platform five years to live. The comments, made in an interview yesterday, suggest that the company may not make a successor to the BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet released in 2011 that failed to take off at retail.
Speaking to Bloomberg at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles, Heins claimed "In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore." Heins suggested people may use a "big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."
The BlackBerry PlayBook had a relatively lackluster launch, with some sales reported but no lines. Later, the company was forced to lower the price of the tablet, though this appeared to have little effect. Sales in the third quarter of 2011 went down to just 200,000 for the entire quarter, with HP shipping more TouchPads in a $100 clearance sale after formally exiting the tablet business. Despite making some minor changes, sales continue to be low for the PlayBook.
In contrast to Heins' prediction, Apple managed to ship 19.5 million iPads in the last quarter, while iDC numbers at the beginning of the year show a large contingent of Android-based tablet manufacturers shipping even higher numbers than before. Figures released last week claims the entire tablet market shipped 40.6 million branded devices in the quarter, a 117-percent year-on-year increase, with Windows 8 tablets managing to capture a 7.5-percent market share.
Heins' tablet commentary came at the same time as the CEO claimed the BlackBerry Q10 would sell "several tens of millions of units" to customers.