The next BlackBerry tablet could be a hybrid

by David Needle

March 18 2013

The BlackBerry PlayBook will get a boost from the new BB10 operating system.
The BlackBerry PlayBook will get a boost from the new BB10 operating system.

The good news for BlackBerry PlayBook owners is that they can expect an upgrade to the company’s latest BB10 operating system sometime soon. But whether there will be any new models of the beleaguered PlayBook tablet is an open question.

CEO Thorsten Heins said at the BB10 launch earlier this year that the company was focused on new models of its smartphone line. As for new tablets, Heins said that is something BlackBerry is exploring, but would only pursue if it could do so profitably.

That last bit is an acknowledgment of today’s market reality - some of the tablet vendors BlackBerry would have to compete with, notably Amazon and Google, look to make money on services and keep their hardware profit margin close to the bone.

In an interview published today with the Australia’s Financial Review, Heins elaborated on what it would take for BlackBerry to reenter the tablet market:

“I think the profit pool is very very thin. Kudos to Apple, I think they really managed to own that space, so it doesn’t make sense for me to just take this head on,” said Heins.

“I need to figure out, for my enterprise customers, for my consumers, for my BB10 audience, what can I do that provides them a mobile computing experience in the form factor of a tablet, which goes beyond just the puristic tablet experience.”

While he didn’t spell it out, something that “goes beyond just the puristic tablet experience” sounds like a device that might include a physical keyboard and/or a convertible touchscreen display.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t sound like it’s high on BlackBerry’s priority list for now. 

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