BlackBerry doesn’t have a great track record with predicting the future. The company may have dominated the US smartphone space a decade ago thanks to support for corporate networks and phones with QWERTY keyboards. But BlackBerry has been struggling in recent years to keep up with Apple and Google in the mobile space.
So I’m going to take a comment to Bloomberg from BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins about the future of tablets with a grain of salt. But he doesn’t think “there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore” in five years.
One thing that does seem likely from that statement is that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for the company to release a successor to the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Update: Heins has clarified that we could eventually see another BlackBerry tablet-like device, but it might not be a standalone device like the PlayBook. It could look more like the Asus Padfone, which is an Android smartphone with an optional tablet dock which lets you use a larger touchscreen display and a bigger batter.
RIM released the PlayBook a few years ago, back when the company thought people would pay $499 for a 7 inch tablet that didn’t run the same OS as its phones, or as any other tablet on the market.
There weren’t many apps available for the platform at the time, and while the PlayBook offered a great multitasking system and a decent web browser, it wasn’t until the company added limited support for Android apps that we started to see a great number of apps for the platform.
These days you can pick up a 64GB PlayBook for as little as $200, or a refurbished 16GB model for about half that price.
BlackBerry recently introduced the BlackBerry 10 operating system for smartphones, and the company is focusing heavily on promoting its two latest handsets, the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. It makes sense for the company to push the products it has right now instead of shifting attention to other devices.
But you have to wonder whether Heins is only predicting doom for tablets due to the company’s lack of success with its first tablet, or if he’s really looking ahead toward a future without tablets.
As phones become more capable, wearable devices start to supplement the way we interact with technology, computer screens become flexible, and the lines between notebooks and tablets continue to blur, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the iPads and Transformer Pads of today are no longer necessary.
But it’s at least as likely that they’ll evolve into new types of devices as it is that they’ll fade away like a fad that’s no longer in fashion.