BlackBerry is launching the Z10 today in the U.S., but it’s already looking ahead to what comes next, according to an interview between ABC’s Joanna Stern and BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. The company is working on ways that BlackBerry software can power your laptop or tablet, too, and all from your smartphone. Heins sounds like he’s describing an Asus PadFone, and revealed a dream of a personal computing world focused on just a single device.
Heins said, referring to the new BlackBerry smartphones, that we’ve now reached the point where you’re now carrying around a full-fledged computer in your pocket with “the power of a laptop.” He emphasized that BlackBerry wants to be the one to finally figure out how to truly consolidate all of a user’s computing devices into one, though when asked directly whether this would take the form of a laptop or tablet that supports and is powered by a docked smartphone, Heins told Stern that the company is working with a number of different options.
We’ll know more about BlackBerry’s unification plans at BlackBerry World in May, Heins said, when he plans to “talk about a few of those concepts” the company is working on. Another subject up for discussion at the event will be additional BB10 phones beyond the currently announced Z10 and Q10 handsets, he told ABC.
Hybrid tablet/PC/smartphone devices have a bit of a checkered past. The Asus PadFone has seen success in some international markets, but failed to make a splash in the U.S. And Samsung launched a Smart Dock for the Galaxy Note II that supposedly converts your smartphone into a mini desktop computer, but we’ve heard relatively little about that device and nothing about its popularity since its launch.
Another reason for skepticism is BlackBerry’s track record with the Playbook tablet. The Playbook was the first BlackBerry device to ship with a QNIX-based operating system, a clear precursor to BB10. It didn’t fare well: facing extremely low consumer demand, BlackBerry ran a number of fire sales and eventually stuck with a permanent, drastic price drop to get people buying.
Does that mean BlackBerry can’t pull off a tablet/notebook/smartphone unification? Not necessarily, but it also doesn’t necessarily instill courage. Still, it’s good to see the company aim for the kind of solution that’s seemed so promising in the past, even if it might be the proverbial Fountain of Youth of the tech industry – eminently desirable but ultimately mythical.