/ Technology

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


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.


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.


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.


Us seniors actually need the 9.7″…


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.


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.

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.


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!

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.

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.


There is a new phone coming out this summer that nests inside a tablet and connects both devices – so you don’t need two sim cards – most mobile contracts don’t allow data sharing or tethering as its called.

The phone can be popped out and used alone. I think its a Samsung or LG – could be wrong.

This seems like a brilliant idea – no idea on how the anti-tethering issues will affect usability though, only 3G allow it and getting a signal with that is like drilling for oil in the Artic.

If it works as is on a decent network (Voda or O2 in the rural world of Bucks)
I’ll finally buy one!

Ye Gods!!!

lumatrix says:
5 July 2013

Android phones can have tethering enabled without the needed consent of the network. They don’t know where the data is going. Only thing is tethering to a laptop can cost a LOT more than just displaying the data on the phone.

Manon 1753 says:
10 May 2013

Gadget madness!! Isn’t the planet supposed to be running out of fossile fuel and drowning in CO2? We are becoming more and more dependent on electricty with our computers, mobiles, tablets, all of which need to be manufactured, advertised, transported, stocked sold and 2 years later, disposed of. If we need an IT device, why don’t we try and reduce the numbers we keep and insist that they are made to last and/or that they can be repaired?
I have a 9 years old black and white mobile phone , it is the size of a credit card, transmits calls and text messages, is three-band, clam shell, offers 7 days standy and is on its second battery. It fits into a trousers pocket, on short trips I don’t even have to carry the ubiquitous charger! What MORE does one need to be contactable? For all other IT affairs, I use a small laptop. It’s 6 years old, runs under XP and does all I want from a computer: writing books, designing and updating data bases, reading and sending e-mails, search for documents on-line, even read them on-line.
Tablets? Smartphones? WHY? How about going to the cinema to see the latest film (walk through the real world to the cinema and get some exercice at the same time and you’ll be saving on that expensive gym memberhsip), or watch it on the telly at home. Say hello to your fellow passengers on the bus, instead of burying yourselves in your headphones and your tablet screens, when you fail to see that an old person is being robbed or a blind person needs help to find a seat? Talk to your small child in its buggy when you take it for a walk instead of talking on the mobile to your best friend!
Or perhaps the human race is just perfecting the art of avoiding all direct inter-human contact.?


I think the answer is to have a realistic environmental tax on new electrical goods, much the same as we have to pay for disposal of tyres when we buy new ones, even if this charge is not shown on the receipt.

You might be happy with your old phone and computer, but both products are evolving fast and I can understand why not everyone would be happy. I would be very happy with an old phone, but having a modern laptop computer is very important to me, and my tablet is a great convenience when out and about.
I very much agree that we need to be careful about fossil fuels, though I am less convinced by the arguments related to carbon dioxide. It is overall impact of a human being on our environment that is important, including travel, food production and energy use. Perhaps my greatest contribution to the environment is by not having any children.

Sadly, we live in a consumer society, where there is pressure to buy new products and boost the economy. That will have to change, and the sooner the better.

I would like to see a ten year guarantee on most consumer electricals, so that retailer/manufacturer is responsible for repairs (providing faults are not caused by abuse, including excessive use). This will quickly encourage manufacturers to make higher quality products. I would exclude products such as phones, laptops and anything else that would be likely to become obsolete within a shorter time. I don’t see why a TV should not last ten or fifteen years providing that the manufacturer builds in provision to install upgrades free or at an affordable price.