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BlackBerry's Thorsten Heins thinks tablets will be dead in five years

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As BlackBerry launches its keyboard-equipped Q10 smartphone, CEO Thorsten Heins is once again downplaying the importance of tablets in the mobile market. "In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins told Bloomberg in an interview. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model." BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet was one of its most notable failures, quickly dropping in price after unsold inventory caused it to take a $485 million loss in late 2011.

Since taking the helm, Heins has slowly backed away from tablets: the company remained "committed" to them in mid-2012, but by early 2013, Heins indicated that their future depended on how well BlackBerry did with its new platform on phones. For BlackBerry, which is struggling to carve out a niche with the Z10 and Q10, this makes perfect sense. But now, he's suggesting that not only is BlackBerry likely staying out, the market itself is dying.

It's a radically different take than those of Apple — iPad sales continue to grow — or Microsoft, the latter of which bet big on convertible tablets for Windows 8. Heins has also said that he's interested in replacing tablets or laptops with phone-powered devices, a futuristic idea that hasn't worked out very well for others who have tried it. Whatever he's planning, it will end up being shaped by the success of BlackBerry 10, which remains an unknown quantity despite optimistic reports of Q10 sales in the UK.