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BlackBerry reiterates plans to pursue tablet market

by David Needle

February 28 2013

PlayBook owners can expect a BB10 update soon, while the company also mulls releasing new tablets.
PlayBook owners can expect a BB10 update soon, while the company also mulls releasing new tablets.

Will the PlayBook rise again? For now BlackBerry (the original Research in Motion name has been dropped) is focused on bringing its new BlackBerry 10 software to current PlayBook owners, but a new tablet could also be in the works.

David J. Smith, who heads BlackBerry’s mobile business, said the company is “looking at future tablets, and how we can continue to play in the tablet business.”

“We are definitely very interested in the tablet market. It’s a challenging market, but I still think people want to see a range of different products,” Smith said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal at Mobile World Congress this week.

At the BlackBerry 10 launch last month, CEO Thorsten Heins said his company will only make tablets again if the terms are right.

“The way I look at the tablet business is this: providing profit to shareholders on hardware only is difficult,” he said. “We will continue in the tablet space, but we want to provide a value proposition that isn't just the hardware.”

In the latest quarter, ended Dec. 1, BlackBerry sold 255,000 PlayBook tablets. Apple, which dominates the market, sold 22.9 million iPads in its latest quarter, ended Dec. 29.

The PlayBook was one of the early smaller tablet entries when it was released two years ago sporting a 7-inch screen and designed mainly for business customers. Since then, the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 (both 7-inch display models) have been among the best-selling tablets. Apple's iPad mini, with a bigger 7.85-inch display, has been a runaway hit for the comapny.

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