Blackberry CEO: Tablets are doomed

But are they headed for convergence or catastrophe?

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins has made a bold prediction:Tablets don't have much of a future.

"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins told Bloomberg on Tuesday. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."

Heins comments seem hard to believe at first. Tablet sales have been skyrocketing, as households phase out aging laptops and replace them with cheap media consumption devices. This trend shows no sign of slowing down.

But a broader look at Heins' past remarks shows a vision that actually isn't so radical. 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.

"You will not carry a laptop within three to five years," Heins told the New York Times last November. "Instead, smartphones will power the PC workstations of the future, replacing laptops and desktops.

Heins expanded on those remarks in an interview with ABC News in March: "This is not just a smartphone anymore," he said. "This is your personal computing power. Think about what you can do with that. How many personal computing devices do you carry? Why not unify this to one device that executes all your computing needs?"

Modular computing is hardly a new idea, but it's not ready for prime time. Asus already tried to combine phone, tablet and laptop together with the Padfone--a product that hasn't been a huge hit. Canonical is eyeing a converged future for Ubuntu Linux, but has trouble finding OEM support. Windows 8 hybrids, meanwhile, try to bridge the laptop and tablet device with varying degrees of success, but the phone is still completely separate.

The concept won't really take off without major advances in wireless communication that would eliminate the need for a multitude of wires and complex docking stations, along with improvements in smartphone battery life. Software must also be designed around modular computing, so a single operating system can make sense on all screen sizes.

Modular computing presents its own challenges as well. Other devices become worthless if your phone is lost, stolen, or simply placed in another room, and having everything tied to one device also means being locked into a single ecosystem.

Will fixes to those problems rear their heads within five years, as Heins suggests? Perhaps. But no matter whether Heins is right or wrong about modular PCs, keep in mind that Blackberry hasn't ruled out making new tablets in the short-term.

Just last month, Heins said the company is thinking about how to craft tablets in a way that adds value, and not just making hardware for hardware's sake--sage wisdom for any company that wants to live long enough to see the future of computing.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesBlackberrytabletshardware systemsconsumer electronicsnew york timesBloomberg

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

TechHive (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?