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Could a New BlackBerry Tablet Be More Than Just an April Fools' Joke?


If BlackBerry really were to build a new tablet, what must it get right this time around?

Depending on how big a fan of BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) you are, you either found it incredibly exciting or bizarre when you came across news stories on Monday about BlackBerry's leaked roadmap, which included plans to launch a new BlackBerry 10 tablet and two smaller-sized "phablets" later this year.

Of course, Monday was April Fools' Day. It turned out that after the high-profile failure of the BlackBerry PlayBook, the company does not in fact have new tablets lined up for release, and that the leaked roadmap was simply an elaborate hoax.

However, CEO Thorsten Heins did not rule out the possibility of BlackBerry putting together a new tablet.

"We're thinking about it," said Heins in a recent interview, according to the The Globe and Mail.

The BlackBerry head said that many factors had to be taken into consideration before deciding if it would make sense for his company to release a new tablet, adding that he has tasked developers to figure out how to make a tablet that could be integrated with "other screen environments."
The BlackBerry PlayBook

"That's how we're thinking about it that [sic] right now," Heins said.

So what would BlackBerry have to do to ensure that if it does introduce a new tablet, the device will be a success? Cameron Yuill, founder and CEO of AdGent Digital, a global company that specializes in the development of proprietary display, video, and tablet advertising platforms for the world's largest publishing websites, said that a BlackBerry tablet should be targeted at the enterprise market.

"[BlackBerry] needs to stop trying to be everything for everyone because the audience that respects the BlackBerry brand is the audience they lost when they tried to be 'Apple,' " Yuill told Minyanville. "Apple is for Angry Birds, while BlackBerry is for professionals."

Specially, Yuill said that BlackBerry needed to focus on producing good software if it were to build a new tablet. When the PlayBook made its debut, the device was slammed for its dearth of apps compared with the BlackBerry smartphone and competing iOS (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) tablets, such as the Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) Galaxy Tab.

(See also: Samsung's Galaxy S4 Will Be the World's Fastest Smartphone, but Does That Really Matter?)

"Companies that focus on mobile hardware specs fail. It's all about mobile Web browsing and apps," Yuill asserted. "Does the hardware support apps or not? If the answer is yes, the processor and memory specs are irrelevant."

Yuill added that BlackBerry must ensure a new tablet has "great Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange support, video conferencing and security, [and it can] build a brand around [those qualities]."

Though the critical reception to the BlackBerry PlayBook was poor, business consultant LaKesha Womack argued that it was not the device itself that was the problem. The issue was that BlackBerry was a sinking ship, and the PlayBook simply drowned along with the company.

"The problem [for BlackBerry] was that their smartphone was not very popular. Most people are product loyalists. Most Android phone users prefer Android tablets and the same is true with iPhone and iPad users because users like to be able to sync their data," Womack told Minyanville.

(See also: Apple's Stock Price Is Still Dropping (So Why Are You Still Interested?) )

Womack suggested that BlackBerry should focus on making its BlackBerry 10 smartphones a success and "people will organically desire the tablet so that their data can sync."

Indeed, the original BlackBerry PlayBook was launched with an intention to create a seamless mobile ecosystem together with BlackBerry smartphones. However, the PlayBook hit retail shelves with many device-syncing issues. Software updates months down the road solved these problems, but the PlayBook was already deemed a flop by then.

The good news for BlackBerry this time around is that, judging from Thorsten Heins' recent comments, the company has learned its mistakes from the failure of the PlayBook

(See also: Can the Samsung Galaxy S4 Break the BlackBerry-Apple Stranglehold on Business Customers?)

"The hardware alone is very difficult these days to make money with," Heins said, echoing Yuill's opinion. Heins highlighted that that only a few of his competitors have turned a profit on tablets.

"The question is, what are you putting around the tablet as a service or an experienced value proposition that allows you to make money with it, other than just put the pure hardware out there," he continued.

Only time will tell if Heins and his team can figure out the answers for those questions. One thing's for sure, though: If BlackBerry were to release a new tablet, it had better make sure that it will be a runaway success, or else it might as well just consider the idea a bad April Fools' joke and move along.

(See also: Despite Android's Rise, the iPad Remains the Undisputed Top Tablet Among Business Users and Can Research In Motion Stop the Apple and Google Onslaught in the Enterprise Arena?)

Twitter: @sterlingwong

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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