The tablet computer has no future, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins told Bloomberg in an interview.
“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins said in an interview in Los Angeles Monday. “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”
His comments are the strongest indication yet that BlackBerry may be planning to abandon its tablet computer line, less than two years after the company's PlayBook debuted to less than stellar reviews.
BlackBerry took a $485 million write-down in 2011 after the PlayBook was panned by critics for lacking a built-in email feature, among other issues.
“In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing -- that’s what we’re aiming for,” Heins told Bloomberg. “I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat.”
Heins has raised some eyebrows recently with comments about the state of the mobile computing business, particularly with a recent comment in which he suggested the iPhone has become out-of-date.
"The rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone — with all due respect for what this invention was all about — is now five years old,” he said, in comments that had some observers accusing BlackBerry of being the pot that called the kettle black.
Heins’ comments come amid good news for BlackBerry on another front: Its new Q10 model, slated for release in Canada on Wednesday, has reportedly been selling like hotcakes in the U.K., where it debuted first.
The Q10, which features BlackBerry’s signature physical keyboard, reportedly sold out at department store chain Selfridges in record time, business blog Seeking Alpha reports.
Heins said earlier he expects sales of the Q10 be in the "tens of millions."
BlackBerry has been grappling with contradictory and often alarmist reports about the state of its business. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Ontario Securities Commission to investigate an analyst’s report that the BlackBerry Z10, the touch-screen model that debuted in January, is experiencing an unusually high rate of returns.
BlackBerry says the report is “false.”
In yet another harbinger of bad news for BlackBerry, an analyst at Wedge Partners predicted last week that production of the Z10 is being scaled back.
But Jefferies Group analyst Peter Misek said in a client note he sees return rates at normal levels.
“Z10 sales in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. remain steady with no inventory or return issues,” he wrote.