BlackBerry CEO says tablets will be useless in five years

In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Thorsten Heins questions the value of tablets, pouring cold water on a PlayBook successor.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins showing off the Z10 (right) and Q10.
Seems like BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins won't be holding up another PlayBook for a while -- if ever. Sarah Tew/CNET

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is not a fan of tablets.

Heins questioned the need for the mobile devices in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday.

"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," he said to Bloomberg.

Those are bold words for BlackBerry, which, of course, has had a checkered history with its sole attempt at a tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. The PlayBook, which was a massive flop when it debuted without core BlackBerry e-mail and messaging apps, is now considered more of a bargain-bin item.

Still, there are some BlackBerry faithfuls who are eager for a PlayBook successor that runs on the updated BlackBerry 10 operating system -- an idea onto which Heins apparently has thrown cold water. The executive previously has said that the company wouldn't make a tablet unless it could do so profitably; he reiterated that point to Bloomberg. Heins also said he didn't believe the tablet business was a good one to be in.

BlackBerry later issued a statement regarding Heins' comments:

The comments that Thorsten made yesterday are in line with previous comments he has made about the future of mobile computing overall, and the possibilities that come with a platform like BlackBerry 10. We continue to evaluate our tablet strategy, but we are not making any shifts in that strategy in the short term. When we do have information about our PlayBook strategy, we will share it.

Apple has made mountains of money selling its iPad tablet. And, profitable or not, Amazon has seen wide adoption of its Kindle Fire franchise. Samsung Electronics said it regards tablets, driven by its duo lines of Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note tablets, as a growth driver for the company.

Heins said he expects BlackBerry to be a leader in mobile computing in the next five years, but apparently without the aid of tablets.

Updated at 12:56 p.m. PT: to include a statement from BlackBerry.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.


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