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BlackBerry boss: taking on iPad "doesn't make sense"

BlackBerry PlayBook

By Dave Stevenson

Posted on 18 Mar 2013 at 12:58

The head of BlackBerry says the company made mistakes with its initial foray into tablet computing.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, CEO Thorsten Heins said he "wouldn’t want to do it the same way again", adding that profitability in the tablet market was "very thin".

"Kudos to Apple," he said. "I think it really managed to own that space so it doesn’t makes sense for [BlackBerry] to just take this head on."

BlackBerry’s current tablet offering is the PlayBook, a 3G, 7in tablet that arrived in the UK to reasonably positive reviews in May 2011. However, its impact has been limited, hindered by a combination of uncompetitive pricing at launch, strong offerings from Apple and Samsung, and a lack of native email support for almost eight months after its release.

The PlayBook’s dual-core, 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 1,024 x 600 touchscreen are now looking decidedly long in the tooth: since the device arrived in April 2011, Apple has announced no fewer than three new tablets across two different form factors.

The choppy waters encountered by the PlayBook means Heins is hedging his bets. "If I do something around tablets, I want it to be really substantial and meaningful," he said. "Quite frankly, it would need to be profitable as well."

Heins’ comments come only a month after he told Reuters BlackBerry didn’t plan to abandon tablets. "I’m not getting out of the tablet business," he said. "I’ve asked my teams to build another [tablet], but I need to make money from it. If the hardware doesn’t provide the margins I need, then it makes no sense in doing it."

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User comments

Lack of vision & ambition

I'm sure there's a PhD thesis or three in there.

A small & innovative company grows to become the default choice in a market. It goes all 'corporate' and loses its creativity. It becomes risk-averse (forgetting its roots) and starts to 'play safe'.
In the case of Blackberry it may weather this storm, but if you're a "One-trick Pony" you'd better hope nobody learns to do your trick better. I'm not convinced....

On the specific issue of Tablets I see no particular problem in competing with Apple. The key is to produce an excellent, but affordable product.
Google's Nexii (Nexuses?) have shown that it's perfectly possible to do it. My gut is telling me that while Apple may continue to sell to the image-conscious, there's a big market for honest 'Ronseal' (does what it says on the tin)products which are less expensive, but not 'cheaper'.
Go compete!

By wittgenfrog on 18 Mar 2013

The wifi model cpu is 1GHz but came with 16, 32 or 64gb of storage. Had it for a year now and it is an excellent tablet. USB host mode would be nice as would native streaming apps for netflix and lovefilm. The battery is slow to charge over usb but these are minor gripes. With the corperate market the orginal was aimed at it doesn't make sense to push out faster than their replacement cycle.

One thing that doesn't get brought up enough is how robust it is. It has taken the worse I and my young son can (literally sometimes) throw at it and just one or two tiny scratches to show for it.

Including the full version of documents to go was a good idea as well.

Your article didn't even touch on the bridge, that's a USP I haven't seen on another tablet.

By JamesD29 on 18 Mar 2013

I don't think this post was meant to be a review of the tablet just commenting on what Blackberry boss said.

By curiousclive on 19 Mar 2013

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