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BlackBerry tablet gaffe: why Thorsten Heins should have kept schtum

BlackBerry tablet gaffe: why Thorsten Heins should have kept schtum

Looking back at his remarks, it’s hard not to imagine a BlackBerry PR exec tearing their hair out as Thorsten Heins indulged himself in a takedown of the tablet market.

Quoth he: “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.

“Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

When BlackBerry finally managed to ease Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis out of the door, surely staff in their media and comms team would have thought that the days of firefighting were over.

But alas, it seems Heins hasn’t learned the lesson of his predecessors.

Taken in isolation, Heins’ comments to Bloomberg look downright odd.

Thorsten Heins BlackBerry CEO

Tablet sales show no signs of letting up. The budget end of the market is booming and other players are finally giving Apple a run for their money.

Mind you, the iPad’s nigh-on 20 million sales in the first quarter of the year show Cupertino’s doing pretty well out of the apparently ailing market too.

Consider that the PC market is being battered by tablets and that users are demanding bigger screens to access content, and the idea that tablets will be a goner by 2018 is just plain weird.

Perhaps Heins meant that phablets would take up the slack. But just look at the demand for seven-inch slates like the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.

Apple iPad mini vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs Google Nexus 7 side by side

People want more capacious displays for work and play and tablets fulfill that role perfectly.

Look at Heins’ remarks in the wider context, though, and you see a man heading a company that seems to think it’s made it back to the top.

The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 have clearly been successful, selling better than hoped.

The company’s ambition is to be admired.

But making statements like this only serves to suggest that BlackBerry is still mired in the past, thinking it can dictate the terms of the market.

Those days ended when the iPhone arrived.

Blackberry Playbook

Heins seems only to want to dismiss tablets because BlackBerry has only ever released one and it was a total flop.

The PlayBook was the ultimate primer in how not to release a product: delayed endlessly, launched without complete software and lacking in decent apps.

It could have been so much more. In fact, a BlackBerry 10-based slate would probably do well.

In this post-PC world, a secure tablet would surely be the go-to piece of kit for corporations looking to save on IT costs but still offer full laptop functionality.

Now though, Heins’ remarks will follow him everywhere.

If BlackBerry does decide to release a new tablet, what will the reaction be? You can be certain his interview with Bloomberg will be the first thing on everyone’s minds.

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