/ 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.

Yes Smartphones are getting bigger and yes you can watch everything on them now. However, you have to pay a NETWORK CHARGE or buy a pay as you go phone. Either way its going to cost a lot more to watch those things than just buying a NEXUS 7. The other issue is that when mobile phone were launched they were the size of a house brick and looked ridiculous. The way current trends sre its not going to be too long before we arrive back where we started from.

Paul Rone-Clarke says:
5 August 2013

Phones are way too small for me. I can type 70 wpm on a keyboard but am lucky to get a single word out on a phone touch screen without hitting the wrong tiny little key. I use an old fashioned phone and have a 3g Ipad3 for texts and such like. Also a 5″ phone? Where am I supposed to put that when I’m wearing shorts and tee short? Never mind a 6.3″ one. Happy with a normal 2g phone and 3g on a device where I can at least use the touch screen keyboard without sausage fingering the wrong key every time. #3gphoneskeyboardstoodarnsmall

You need to get yourself a man bag. Ladies have had to carry handbags for over a century and it’s about time men did the same. Men do so when they are abroad but return to their ‘macho’ ways as soon as they return home. Get a man bag – problem solved.

Lol we are in 2018 in a minute and tablets are still going strong😱 . Sent from my Samsung tablet

I don’t take the new tablets I still take the old fashioned pills another stupid comment from me A question ” how do you rear a pork sausage ” sign saying “home reared pork sausages” animals yes but pork sausages ?

I presume it’s shorthand for sausages made from home-reared pork and should be shown as follows : ” ‘home-reared pork’ sausages “. ‘Home-reared’ is the odd part and begs a question.

I know what it means but it does not say what it means You find many signs and notices like that everywhere you look I seem to notice them “no fly tipping ” has any fly ever done anything to deserve a tip Do you tip flies ?

Well, they’ve just left out the hyphen between “fly”and “tipping”, that’s all. Not everyone has perfect literacy skills.

I could’nt agree more.

I see that John Ward and me do not agree on many things but in a way that is a good thing if everyone believed in the same things there would be no Which convo for anybody to give their own thoughts or ideas |The world wold become a boring place with everyone thinking and doing the same I accept your points John but will still give my own thoughts even that we disagree on many things What I post are just MY views you post yours I will always listen to the other point of view even if I do not agree with it

I noticed in the December 2017 Which? Magazine that it had been necessary to print corrections [euphemistically called ‘clarification’] to two statements made in the November 2017 report on the Bacon Taste Test.

The article had stated that ‘outdoor bred pork’ meant that the pigs were kept in stalls after weaning, whereas in fact they were kept in straw-bedded systems in large airy barns or purpose-built buildings.

The article had also stated that tooth-clipping and nose-ringing were practices designed to reduce injuries caused by boredom, whereas in fact the tooth-clipping of piglets was designed to reduce injuries to the sow’s teats, while nose-ringing was designed to prevent pigs rooting up paddocks and pastures if they were kept outdoors.

I am surprised that the Which? Food Experts did not know that.

These are fairly serious errors and our pig farmers have enough on their plates without having publications like Which? putting out misleading information on their animal husbandry.

Time to get out of the office and go down on the farm.

I hadn’t noticed this. Rather hidden away in the bottom corner of p17. As it was a correction of a significant error of fact, not a clarification, it deserved much greater prominence – in the Editors View or News page perhaps.
Which? will always make mistakes – it happens, but not too often. They would gain much more by making a prominent correction so readers do not continue to be misled, instead of hiding them in “Feedback – what you’ve been telling us this month”.

Bishbut – You and I agree on more things than you realise. I give you a fair number of thumbs-up ticks and sometimes mine is the only support you get!

You always remember the” bad” and forget about the “good ” in most things Why does the bad weather always start a conversion but not all the good days weather we have just had I have to remind some of the good they seem to have forgotten about

As judged by the electronics counter at my local Sainsburys, sales of laptops, tablets, phablets and mobile phones are still a good business for your average hypermarket to be in. (But in contrast, the local equivalent Tesco store now only sells phablets and mobile phones.)

On a recent train journey from Cheltenham to Manchester, I noticed far more folk using laptops than tablets, but both classes of device were present and in use.

If you’re going out and back in a day a laptop is manageable, but if you’ve got any other luggage it’s a bit of a burden. That might explain the preferences on a train journey.

I wonder how old Rory was when he penned his embarrassingly confident prediction? What he might have overlooked is that a large tablet will always exceed the screen size of a ‘phone and, although the market has made the smartphone a valuable tool, it’s still a small screen size. Perhaps if AR really takes off things could change, but we’re srill somewhat away from decent AR.

The future. The specialist devices.

No mention of the 9.7″ ereader! Lightweight and specialised some now come with an Android operating system. And of course very long battery life sufficient for a holiday away. Perhaps Which? will mention they exist, as they have done for the last four years, but have never featured in articles or tests of e-readers.

The A3 size being perhaps too much of a battery hog and not as portable.

And then there is the reMarkable the electronic paper and pen e-screen that syncs with your computer documents wirelessly, and backs up your own writing or drawings. It also acts as an 9.7″ ereader.

They have made devices less specialist, haven’t they? Phones that are small computers, tablets with excellent cameras, for example. Why do we need a specialist ereader when I would have thought a tablet would do the job well? I ask this as a genuine question as I don’t own a tablet or read ebooks.

I found the 12″ iPad Pro to be invaluable for reading eBooks on a couple of years ago when I was in hospital. Clear, good sized font and an almost unlimited number of books – that’s the attraction for me.

The benefit of e-readers is that they normally use e-ink which like print is inert. Basically it provides a white screen and all the letters appear fully formed and can stay like that for weeks as it the screen no longer requires power. We have had four or five e-readers depending whether you count donated ones. and I have broken one.

I have a fiction series with many books and thousands of pages and I can read several hundred pages without fatigue.

As to reading matter I have never bought any ebooks on-line. There are 36,000 at Gutenberg and many have been donated to me so in all I have about 4,000 e-pub books. I also download accounts, research papers, Wikipedia, and official military histories such as here:

If you read on any tablet or computer they are radiating the text at you. The eye being a sensitive thing finds this tiring after a time.


a good site:

Thanks Patrick.

How long has he been CEO ? Has he only realised the Blackberry operating system has been out of date for a long time but refused to change it to Android until a short time ago so does he know very much at all about IT products I wonder !