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Why BlackBerry's tepid tablet strategy could be its fatal flaw

Al Sacco | June 4, 2013
BlackBerry is making a significant comeback, but its stance on tablets and the future of the BlackBerry PlayBook could undo any progress it has made.

The first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones have been well received, and the company has made a lot of progress in the past five months. But without a tablet strategy, the progress could be for naught.

Give BlackBerry Users an Inch and They'll Take an iPad
Take, for example, the stereotypical BlackBerry user, who not only purchased a BlackBerry tablet when it was first released, but who has also already bought a new BlackBerry 10 phone. Let's call him "Kevin."

Kevin has owned his PlayBook tablet for more than two years. The volume up and down buttons don't work well anymore, and the display is scratched. It's time to think about a new tablet...but another PlayBook isn't an option, because the hardware hasn't really changed in years. (BlackBerry released a 4G/LTE PlayBook with a cellular radio and faster processor in August, but the hardware is much the same.) That iPad mini and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 look mighty appealing. So, with some reservations, Kevin buys an iPad. All of his friends told him to go with the iPad over an Android tablet and he listened.

Skip ahead another year, to the summer of 2014. Kevin loves both his BlackBerry Q10 and his iPad mini. But he accidentally dropped his Q10 while cycling, and it won't turn back on. It's time for a new phone, and he's considering another Q10, but Kevin's always been a little interested in the iPhone. Now that he's been using a ton of iOS apps for the iPad, he's and spent hard-earned money on them, the iPhone is even more appealing. So he goes with iOS again.

And there goes another one-time loyal BlackBerry user, who still really liked his BlackBerry smartphone, but made the switch to iOS anyway.

The point: Even if BlackBerry 10 smartphones continue to impress users, it won't mean much without a solid tablet component in the BlackBerry ecosystem.

I think Thorsten Heins has guided BlackBerry truly thus far, and the company is on the comeback trail. But if Heins honestly believes BlackBerry will be the "absolute leader in mobile computing" in 2018 without a serious tablet, the worst of its troubles may be ahead.


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