Tablets to Become Irrelevant in Five Years, Says BlackBerry CEO
April 30, 2013

Tablets to Become Irrelevant in Five Years, Says BlackBerry CEO

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

As BlackBerry works to rebuild its marketshare, the company is placing all of its emphasis on smartphones. The company CEO recently spoke about a limited lifespan for the tablet platform.

"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Chief Executive officer Thorsten Heins said, in an interview with Bloomberg News at the Milken Institute Conference in Los Angeles. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."

The comment speaks to tablets used in the business market - a clear target for BlackBerry and the company's new BlackBerry 10 platform. While tablets have some adoption in the workplace, the market has taken off like wildfire in the consumer market. Tablets are on track to displace desktop and laptop sales in the next few years. A recent forecast from Gartner expects the tablet market to more than double by 2017. That's a growth from 116.1 million units shipped last year, to 197.2 million this year, and 468 million units projected to ship in 2017.

"BlackBerry thinking tablets are going away is not paying any attention to what is actually taking place," said industry analyst Jeff Kagan. "I agree tablets won't capture the kind of attention they do today, but they do fill an important niche between laptops and smartphones."

BlackBerry, which was known as RIM until it changed its name to the company's main product brand when it introduced the BlackBerry 10 platform, has not introduced a tablet for its BlackBerry 10 platform. The company's BlackBerry PlayBook was critically received.

Remarks from Heins about tablets could be taken out of context, and can be misinterpreted. Tablets are increasingly used in the workplace, however the platform is not overtaking PCs and large display monitors for a large segment of the workforce. The statement also fails to address the consumer marketplace, where sales continue to rise. The tablet format could also see adaptation, which could spur growth in the consumer and business categories.

"I imagine tablets will still be around," said Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates. "In fact, I expect to see a proliferation of form factors to serve progressively more finely targeted markets. So, specialization will increase, and tablets may become a larger category that includes a number of sub-categories of hybrids, true slates, and others at a variety of price points."

Given better context, it is possible to see where Heins draws his views. "But a broader look at Heins' past remarks shows a vision that actually isn't so radical," a PC World article reports. "Essentially, he believes that the smartphone will be the center of your computing universe, and provide the processing muscle and data for a vast array of smart displays."

In a previous interview with the New York Times, Heins said, "Whenever you enter an office, you don't have your laptop with you, you have your mobile computer power exactly here," Heins held up a BlackBerry 10 phone. "You will not carry a laptop within three to five years."