BLACKBERRY chief Thorsten Heins says his company is focused on mobile computing, but remains undecided about whether to make a tablet to take on the Apple iPad.
Mr Heins, the BlackBerry chief executive officer and president, was speaking in Sydney at the Australian launch of the BlackBerry Z10, the consumer-friendly touchscreen smartphone that the once-dominant company hopes will lure people away from their Apple and Samsung smartphones.
Mr Heins said BlackBerry was particularly focused on implementing mobile computing services in the automotive and healthcare fields.
While Apple and Samsung were reportedly working on watches as a personal communication devices and Google plans to release its Glass spectacles this year, Mr Heins said the future of mobile computing was more about services than it was about devices.
“Trillions of dollars are being spent on healthcare in the US after the fact that somebody gets sick,” Mr Heins said.
“So how can you prevent that, how can you increase the efficiency of medication using mobile computing?
“You’ve got to look at this way broader. It might be a health pod in your home that manages your personal health.
“That’s what we talk about when we talk about mobile computing, not about watches.
“We will see what it is and what kind of hardware platform it will be.
“And if need to build a watch, I’ll do it. I don’t know yet.”
Mr Heins cited a IDC report which predicts there will be 1.4 billion mobile workers by 2014, making up 40 percent of the world’s workforce.
He said that next wave of mobile workers would expect easy access to all their computing power through the one device, rather than relying on a combination of a desktop, notebook, tablet and smartphone.
“What we’re betting on at the moment is to say there is convergence coming and the convergence is to the most common denominator which is this thing,” he said tapping a smartphone.
“(It) has huge processing power these days. Why would I carry various platforms with various processing powers if I can do everything with this device?”
Mr Heins did not commit to launching a tablet but said his company was running “a few projects” looking at how a BlackBerry tablet might work.
“How can we take this to the next stage and not just be another tablet, or another design of a tablet? How can we really add value?” he said.
“Tablets in my view, from a hardware perspective, is a very difficult business. There’s one company, kudos to them, that did it really well and they own the majority of the market.”
He said if BlackBerry built a tablet, it would not be just to launch a hardware line but be based around a business or consumer service.
“The pure hardware alone is a cutthroat business and I owe it to my shareholders to provide a return on investment,” he said.
Mr Heins said Australia was a very advanced smartphone market.
“Today we are also launching a whole new mobile computing platform. It goes way beyond mobile communications,” he said.
“Australians expect more and more from their smartphones to help them in their daily lives.”
The key features of the BlackBerry Z10 are the BlackBerry Hub, a central inbox for all messages and social media updates, and BlackBerry Flow, which Mr Heins described as a multitasking system rather than one in which people had to open and close their phone apps.
The BlackBerry Z10 will be available from Optus on March 25 and Telstra on March 26 and through retailers including JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Fone Zone.
The BlackBerry Q10, with a physical keyboard, does not have an Australian release date, although BlackBerry said it would be in the “April timeframe”.