It never seems to fail. Any time you stick BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a room with the media someone is going to ask about a BlackBerry tablet and, no surprise, it has happened again. This time around it was CNET who asked the question whether or not BlackBerry was working on a tablet during the BlackBerry event at Mobile World Congress. For John Chen's part, the answer remained mostly the same as any other time the question has been asked.
"It's not in the works, but it's on my mind. I want it to be different. I want it to be iconic," Chen said. "Bringing a tablet out for a tablet's sake, it's not the right thing to do," jokingly adding "We could always call it a PlayBook 2."
I agree with John Chen here entirely. Putting out a tablet just because is not the right direction to go at all. However, there is still a subset of BlackBerry customers out there who really do want one. For that matter, there are still plenty of people making use of the original BlackBerry PlayBook and loving it for what it does. From my own personal experience, I know there are organizations currently using PlayBooks for their delivery drivers, account managers, and more. Could those customers in the enterprise area be a part of the reason tablets haven't fully escaped John Chen's mind? I think so. In the same vein, there's another reason tablets might still be on John Chen's mind. Remember the folks from Silent Circle, the creators of the Blackphone? Well, they announced a few things at Mobile World Congress too.
As one might expect, they introduced the Blackphone 2, but to go along with that, they also announced what is currently being called the Blackphone+. This is a prototype eight-inch tablet device powered by their Android fork called PrivatOS that will be geared toward enterprise users. In fact, according to an interview with Silent Circle CTO Jon Callas from TechCrunch, the whole company is switching from a target market of prosumers with security concerns to focusing on selling security-focused mobile hardware and encrypted communications software to enterprises. They also note that they're working with a number of mobile device management (MDM) vendors according to Callas who also fired a few shots at BlackBerry. Ironically, they seem to be making one of the same mistakes BlackBerry did with the PlayBook right out of the gates. Right now, they have no built-in secure email solution for the Blackphone+, though it is noted they are working with Lavabit's Ladar Levison on the Dark Mail project.
So with all of that in mind, should BlackBerry be considering another tablet? If BlackBerry isn't doing it, someone else is looking to fill that void. They'd be stupid to not be exploring the options in that area even if they never come to fruition, but this time around it would have to be done right, unlike the BlackBerry PlayBook. Plus, there's the cost and development time involved here. Working on the BlackBerry PlayBook took time and money away from BlackBerry that could have been better utilized elsewhere in the organization and as we know with John Chen being at the helm for pretty much 15 months now, he's NOT going to jump right into something if it can't make BlackBerry money. Can BlackBerry afford another tablet? Not right now, in my opinion. I could write reasons for and against a tablet all day but it really comes down to that simple fact. The numbers will need to add up to profit in order for another BlackBerry tablet to get out the door.
What do you all think? Would a new tablet from BlackBerry be a good thing or is it better that this idea gets left on the shelf until everything else is in order? Let me know in the comments what you think. Personally, I'm quite happy with no BlackBerry tablet right now and would be fine with leaving the idea alone, so I was glad to hear it's not in the works.