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TheStreet Open House

BlackBerry Smartphones on Same Path as Its PlayBook

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last week when I wrote why I thought Thorsten Heins, the CEO of BlackBerry (BBRY), should be fired, it was because he was missing a huge market opportunity with tablets.

Either that, or he was lying when he said they would be irrelevant five years from now.

Of course, we all know that is an extremely unlikely scenario. The tablet market is expected to triple over the next five years, at least according to a study by Gartner. So what is Heins trying to pull by saying they'll be irrelevant in the future?

He's mainly referring to BlackBerry's plan to essentially ditch the PlayBook, which is its version of a tablet. Obviously, the company wouldn't decide to part ways with the tablet segment if it were actually succeeding. But with less than 1% of the current market share and less than 2.5 million units sold in the past 18 months, the PlayBook is what most would call a failure.

When I first began researching the market share percentage of tablets, it was pathetic for BlackBerry. In descending order by vendor, here's what it looked like: Apple (AAPL), Samsung, Amazon (AMZN), ASUS, Barnes & Noble (BKS), Other.


I had expected BlackBerry's tablet sales to be lame, but certainly not worse than ASUS and Barnes & Noble! I used 2012's fourth-quarter sales for a simple reason: That's when tablet sales would be the strongest -- well, when they're supposed to be the strongest anyways.

Bottom line is this: BlackBerry wouldn't be quitting on the Playbook if it was successful. In fact, I tend to agree that if you can't beat Apple and Google (GOOG), then don't waste your time. But c'mon, don't say it's because tablets won't be relevant.

Sure, many will argue that Heins was referring to the ability of BlackBerry phones to connect to different screens. So at home, work and on the go, consumers would only need a screen and a smartphone. But I don't really think that's realistic. Specifically, if BlackBerry is the only company that's going to focus on it, what are the odds that it will truly catch on?

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