BlackBerry Testing Phone-Powered Tablets, Laptops
BlackBerry finally launches today its first BlackBerry 10 phone in the United States, the BlackBerry Z10. After sitting on the sidelines during Apple, Google and Microsoft's smartphone war, the new software platform has the features of a modern-day smartphone: a fast browser, a wide selection of apps and unique multitasking features.
But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins says the company's new software isn't just for smartphones. The company is working on ways to make the phone work with tablets and other computing devices, he told ABC News in a taped video interview.
"To me, this is not just the next smartphone. This has the power of a laptop. This is not just a smartphone anymore," he said. "This is your personal computing power. Think about what you can do with that. How many personal computing devices do you carry? Why not unify this to one device that executes all your computing needs?"
Heins stressed that BlackBerry wants to be the company that figures out how people can consolidate all their computers. Instead of having a tablet, laptop and desktop that synchronize with software, Heins believes the phone can power it all.
"We are talking about a mobile-computing experience that makes sure that for you as a user, you only have to carry one computing device," he said. "Then you get peripherals around it that make your life much more easy than it is today carrying a tablet, carrying a smartphone, carrying a laptop, going to your office and having a desktop."
Heins explained that those four computers are all independent from each other and have to synchronize via software and that multi-core processing and the technology coming for smartphones will be powerful enough to power those other devices.
When asked whether BlackBerry was working on a laptop or tablet that could dock a phone, Heins said the company is testing a few options. "There are various configurations you can think about," he said. "We are working on a few of those, so allow me to not comment on those in depth. But we will talk about a few of those concepts at BlackBerry World."
Asus has experimented with a similar kind of idea. The Padfone is exactly what its name says. It is a pad or tablet combined with a phone. The tablet part doesn't function without the phone. Dock the phone in the back enclosure of the tablet and the tablet screen is then powered by the smartphone. The company also makes a keyboard dock for the tablet part, allowing it to turn into a laptop.
BlackBerry has tried its hand at tablets once already. The Playbook, released in 2011, was the first device to use a version of the company's new operating system. The tablet didn't sell as well as anticipated. After thousands of the first units sat on shelves, the company dropped the price from $499 to $199.
Heins said the company will talk more about its computing plans at its BlackBerry Live conference being held in Orlando in May. He also said the company plans to talk about an extended portfolio of BlackBerry 10 phones.