The tablet is a fad: Is Blackberry boss right?


Blackberry Boss

Thorsten Heins, Chief Executive of Blackberry, went on record saying that tablet computers may just be a fad, and that the company may not go ahead with a follow up to its PlayBook device. He estimated that in five years there won't be a reason to own one any more.

However, figures revealed today show that in the first three months of this year, sales of tablets were up 143%. So is Heins right, or is he in the hall of fame of those who dared make technology predictions?


Heins was arguing that tablets are not a good business model, and while they could work as a big screen in the workplace, they will have little purpose elsewhere in five years, as technology will have moved on.

However the data, from analysis IDC, showed a 143% increase in sales of tablets from the same time last year - with 49.2 million tablets sold. Apple sold 39.6% of that - or 19.5 million. The analysts said that the launch of the latest generation at the end of 2012, plus the appeal of the iPad mini drove demand.

They added: "With growth fuelled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down."

It remains to be seen whether Heins' prediction will come true. We cannot know whether in the next five years there will emerge something that has us ditching the tablet and embracing a new and even more exciting technology.

Dire predictions

However, he ought to know that some people have come a-cropper when trying to predict the future of technology (it's worth highlighting that some of the quotes probably made a great deal more sense in context -and some have been disputed).

1. There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. This cracker comes courtesy of Ken Olsen, founder of mainframe-producer Digital Equipment, 1977.

2. Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput, Lord Alan Sugar, visionary, 2005, who is probably regretting having said this.

3. Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night, Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946. Clearly Zanuck underestimated the draw of being entertained in your own home - for nothing.

4. The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys, Sir William Preece, chief engineer at the British Post Office, 1878.

5. Everything that can be invented has already been invented. Charles Duell, commissioner for the U.S. Patent Office, 1899.