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Blackberry CEO says tablets finished in five years – he’s right

iPad

The tablet has been put on death watch – or at least by Thorsten Heins, chief executive of Blackberry. Although he’s been criticised for claiming there’ll be no reason to own a tablet in five years, I think he’s right.

After taking a trip around his crystal ball, Heins claimed ‘In five years I don’t think there will be a reason to have a tablet anymore. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.’

Since Heins hit the airwaves with his grand vision he’s found himself sat in the stocks while every pundit and tech journalist with a pen and a free hand throws rotten fruit at him. Given that most people either have a tablet or want one, it’s fair to say that not everyone believes tablets are set for the scrapheap. But he might have a point.

Before you reach for the nearest overripe vegetable, hear me out. Tablets have taken off. They have captured our appetite for being online, all the time, everywhere, in the blink of an eye. They are particularly fantastic for entertainment – watching movies on-the-go, streaming TV through apps like BBC iPlayer and for endlessly tossing angry birds at green pigs. But we have something that is increasingly able to do all these things – a smartphone.

Tablets vs smartphones

When the first iPad hit the market back in 2010 smartphones didn’t come with big screens that featured top notch resolution and had limited functionality. You could watch a film on your phone, but it wouldn’t be easy (or pretty).

The launch of tablets has spurred app development on to greater heights; to produce more complex apps for more complex programmes, such as Netflix or Evernote. Today, nearly all the apps available for tablets are also available for top-end phones. You can watch Netflix on your iPad, but you can also watch it on your HTC One and many other phones.

It’s all about screen size

More importantly, we’re starting to see bigger screens. Phones are getting bigger – the Samsung Galaxy S4 already has a 5-inch screen, while the soon to be released Samsung Galaxy Mega is stretching up to 6.3-inches. At the same time, tablets are getting smaller, 7-inch tablets, like the Nexus 7, are the current hot sellers.

People don’t need two devices that can essentially complete the same tasks but are just 0.7 –inches different in size. They just need one.

We don’t need two devices

Tablets can’t offer the functionality of laptops – physical keyboards are simply easier to use. Try filling in your online shopping on a tablet or sending half a dozen emails – it’s possible but it’s much easier on a proper computer. Tablets also can’t replace your phone – you still need to make phone calls.

There will be a device in five years that we will use for our portable computing. It could be a smartphone, it might be the unfortunately-named phablet, it might even be Google Glasses. It’s unlikely to be a 10-inch tablet.

Comments
Member

Blackberry had a reputation for producing phones aimed at the business market, but shot themselves in the foot by launching a tablet called the Playbook. My suggestion would be to ignore Thorsten Heins.

Member

I’ve never wanted a tablet. I use an iPhone 5 and a Dell business laptop. Together they fulfil all my needs; I don’t need or want a third in-between device.

Member

Us seniors actually need the 9.7″…

Member

How will I read my daily newspapers on a smartphone., by pinching, swiping and zooming all over the little screen. No, I need a 9 inch tablet at a minimum and may well stick to my laptop.
I think Thorsten Heins is doing some wishful thinking. Who wants to hold a 6-7 inch phone in their hand – big handed people.

Member

His company has had a big embarrassment over tablets, so it is hardly surprising that he is making this prediction. I use a tablet or laptop, and don’t even have a smartphone. If I had one, I would have to carry around reading glasses – which I would not need for anything else.

Member
Josh says:
5 May 2013

Zoom functions exist.
&If you’re physically unable to read something on a smartphone unless you have reading glasses on. GUESS WHAT. You need reading glasses and must have your text zoomed in on your tablet/laptop. If this is not the case, you really just make little to no sense.

Member

I have reading glasses and use them only to read small text in poor light. I do not need them when I am away from home unless I try to read text on a smartphone. I do not need a smartphone!

Member
Ange.P says:
5 May 2013

I’ve read a lot about this and while Mr Blackberry is probably wishfully thinking tablets away the writer has a point. We don’t need a tablet and a mobile phone and at some point the two things will become the same. People don’t really carry their tablets around anyway – not compared to mobile phones – they are increasingly irrelevant.

Nobody ‘needs’ a tablet.

Member
Anon the mouse says:
8 May 2013

But it’s the breakdown of how tech is used that is important, not just the convergence of the tech. i have a smartphone for my own use. The tablet in my house is used exclusively by the kids, generally to watch a streaming video service such as youtube or netflix.