BlackBerry CEO Heins confirms no BB10 upgrade for PlayBook tablet
BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO Thorsten Heins has confirmed the company will not adapt its new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system for its aging PlayBook tablet.
Speaking on BlackBerry's first-quarter 2013 earnings call Friday morning, Heins said he is "not satisfied with the level of performance and user experience" of BlackBerry 10 on the PlayBook, TechCrunch reports. Heins nevertheless added that the manufacturer would continue to "support PlayBook on existing software platform and configurations."
BlackBerry (then Research In Motion) launched the first edition of the PlayBook in April 2011, complete with its own dedicated operating system. Version 2.0 of the PlayBook OS, released in February 2012, introduced the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps, enabling developers to repackage apps written for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android to run on the tablet. But the PlayBook never caught on with consumers, generating a fraction of the sales totals posted by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Android-based Kindle Fire.
Earlier this year, Heins told Bloomberg that he believes the tablet form factor will have a limited shelf life. "In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins said. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model." He has also said that BlackBerry will consider a PlayBook follow-up only if the product can offer a unique value proposition in a crowded market.
BlackBerry 10 launched in late January. While the revamped OS is vital to the company's turnaround hopes, early signs are not encouraging: BlackBerry reported first-quarter net losses of $84 million. "Quite frankly, the fear is that with a full quarter of BlackBerry 10 sales--we haven't received the BlackBerry 10 unit numbers yet--but certainly it doesn't bode well for the initial BlackBerry 10 launch, particularly the Z10," Morningstar Analyst Brian Colello told Reuters. "But even the outlook for a Q2 loss doesn't bode well for the Q10 either."
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