BlackBerry CEO says tablets have limited future

'Tablets themselves are not a good business model,' Thorsten Heins says

(Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Anyone who was hoping for a next-gen version of the BlackBerry PlayBook — which is probably no one — likely won’t get it, after BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins questioned the future of tablet computing.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Monday Heins gave tablet computers a five-year time limit:

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins said during an interview at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles. “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

His comments come after the company’s PlayBook was considered a flop after it was introduced in 2011. Critics took aim at the PlayBook’s lack of apps, including a lack of built-in email capabilities. The company was forced to write down inventory in 2012 after the tablets failed to sell as anticipated.

The BlackBerryQ10, which is the company’s latest smartphone offering with a built-in keyboard, has garnered positive reviews and it appears, so far, that it may be the comeback phone the company needs.

While Heins’ comments about the future of tablets could be viewed as risky, they seemed to pay off for the company. Blackberry shares rallied Monday, hitting a month high and closing at $15.61 per share in New York.

UPDATE: After Heins’ comments from the Bloomberg interview gained attention, BlackBerry released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying that his statement about tablets was in line with previous comments about mobile computing. “We continue to evaluate our tablet strategy, but we are not making any shifts in that strategy in the short term,” the company said in a statement. “When we do have information about our PlayBook strategy, we will share it.”

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