Blackberry Considers Tablet Redux

by Matt Klassen on March 5, 2015

With a global mobile market share of less than half a percent Blackberry is clearly looking for new ways of differentiating itself in a highly competitive market. But where other companies like look to innovation and reinvention as avenues of change, Blackberry is looking to the company’s past glory for inspiration for how to move forward in these challenging times.

The first such retrospective move was the creation of the Blackberry Classic, a throwback smartphone designed for those select few who still want the Blackberry of old. But company CEO John Chen dropped another throwback bombshell at the Mobile World Congress this week, stating that his company would be interested in re-entering the tablet market, when the time is right of course.

But one has to wonder whether there is still enough market share available for Blackberry to find any success in the tablet sector, given the company’s continued decline in the mobile industry now coupled with the tablet industry’s first year-over-year decline in shipments, evidence both that the market is stalling and, as always, that no one really cares about Blackberry hardware.

Aside from less than thrilling news this week that Blackberry is looking to redouble its efforts towards software product penetration across multiple mobile platforms , the company did unveil two new smartphones, the Leap, aimed at young professionals, and a significantly more intriguing yet-to-be-named new curved screen touchscreen smartphone that looks like a cross between the Passport and the aforementioned Leap.

But the currently unnamed project wasn’t the biggest tidbit out of Blackberry this week, as Chen hinted that a renewed foray into the tablet sector may be part of the future of the company, although no definitive plans have been made. “It’s not in the works, but it’s on my mind,” Chen said in an interview.

You’ll remember that Blackberry’s first tablet was dubbed the Playbook, a disappointing device that was immediately slammed by critics and users alike, quickly discarded into the discount bin before the company scuttled it entirely.

So if Blackberry would venture down the tablet road again, the result would need to be something significant, not simply creating a tablet because that’s what everyone else is doing. “I want it to be different. I want it to be iconic,” Chen said. “Bringing a tablet out for a tablet’s sake, it’s not the right thing to do.”

That’s not to say that Chen has forgotten the company’s first tablet project, he just stands unfazed by his company’s past failure, going so far as to (hopefully) joke that they might name any new tablet device the “Playbook 2.”

While at first blush there may be some need for an enterprise oriented tablet that sports Blackberry’s unique suite of communication and security features, I have to wonder if there remain enough Blackberry fans to support any such device, particularly given the fact that the entire tablet market is in decline.

Whether the notion of another Blackberry tablet is simply a tantalizing rumour or not, I will say that with several new smartphones on the way and hints of a tablet somewhere down the road, this all strikes me as quite a lot of hardware for a company that has publicly declared it is taking a different direction in the mobile industry, one away from smartphones and tablets towards mobile software and data management solutions. Perhaps Blackberry’s identity crisis is still in full swing.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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