“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins is quoted as saying, “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”
Oddly enough, Heins goes on to say, “In five years, I see Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) to be the absolute leader in mobile computing — that’s what we’re aiming for. I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat.”
That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Mobile computing includes a secular shift toward smartphones and tablets, but you could also arguably include shifting from desktops to laptops within the PC market. Of the three devices that embody mobile computing — smartphones, tablets, and laptops — Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) only sells one.
It’s certainly true that tablets have not been a good business for Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY). Shortly after jumping into the market with the PlayBook, the company promptly recorded a pre-tax non-cash charge of $485 million related to a glut of unsold inventory. While PlayBook unit shipments haven’t been consistent, to the company’s credit they’re holding up relatively well for a device that’s two years old and only received minor upgrades. That may also be a function of the price dropping from $500 to under $200 over the past two years.
The tablet market is also much harder to crack competitively. Not only does Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) have to compete with market leader Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its iPad and iPad Mini, but on the low end habitual disrupters Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) are perfectly content selling hardware at cost.