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Could the tablet be 'dead' in just five years? Blackberry's CEO seems to think so

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins believes that the tablet isn't a good business strategy, and will fade into obscurity in as little as five years. Could he prove right, or is his statement completely insane?
April 30, 2013
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For the first quarter of 2013, global tablet shipments reached a record breaking 40.6 million units. Impressively, Android represented 43% of these devices.

Despite the clear success that tablets have seen in the marketplace, did you know they will be gone in five years? At least that’s the case if you believe Blackberry’s CEO, Thorsten Heins.

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet any more. Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

Blackberry is in trouble, whether you like the brand or not. When you are in trouble, you do whatever it takes to remove pressure from your company, and pawn it onto others. For Thorsten Heins, that means calling tablets a one-trick pony that will fade into obscurity.

The 7-inch tablet market has boomed in recent times, yet Blackberry’s own 7-inch PlayBook was nothing short of a failure. Part of the problem was marketing, the other part was not have essential apps ready from the beginning.  That doesn’t mean you have to give up on the tablet market, just look at HP.

Heins’ wild claim that we will not only have little need for a tablet but instead will simply want a ‘big screen’ at work is equally perplexing. I thought that the desktop and laptop market was shrinking…?

Still don’t think that Blackberry is out of touch with reality? Thorsten Heins later stated that in that same five years that tablets disappear, Blackberry will again be the leader in mobile computing.

“In five years, I see BlackBerry [being] the absolute leader in mobilecomputing – that’s what we’re aiming for.” “I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat.”

To be fair, CEOs will say just about anything to get a quick jab in at the competition. It’s a no-brainer that his statements won’t come true, so why bother writing all of this? Because he may not be totally off-mark.


Wait… did I just say that? I may be crazy, but yes I sure as hell did.

Could Tablets Lose Significance in Five Years?

As a warning, this is pure speculation on my part, and is merely an opinion of what could happen, so no need for tablet lovers to form a lynch mob or anything. My crystal ball doesn’t always get things right.

With that out of the way, remember that five years is a long time in the tech-world. Five years ago, the first Android phone had yet to even ship, and look at where things stand now.

Okay, so I don’t think Blackberry will be on top in five years, but I do think that tablets and mobile computing could evolve within that timeframe, making tablets (in their current form) less significant.

When technology rolls out for the first time, it goes through evolutionary phases. Sometimes these techs eventually merge together, such as the PDA and cellphone. For the tablet, this could mean combining with large-screen, thin-bezel smartphones like future members of the Galaxy Note family.

It could also mean that people just don’t need tablets as devices like Google Glass or even smartwatches start to show up and compete for consumer attention. Companies like HP are also reportedly working on Android-powered AiO touch slates that could become perfect family devices and take attention away from 9 to 10-inch tablets.

That doesn’t mean tablets will be “dead” in five years, but they could slowly become less and less important. The big takeaway is that we don’t know what the future holds. While Heins remarks are improbable, they aren’t necessarily impossible (except for maybe the part about a full Blackberry comeback).

What do you think the mobile market will look like in five years? Will tablets still be a major part of the game or will wearable computing and larger-sized smartphones cause them to lose importance?