CHEN WATCH: The Inevitable Return Of A BlackBerry Tablet

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. — Sun Tzu

With the renewed commitment to enterprise under John Chen and the active pursuit of industries like healthcare, the return of the BlackBerry Tablet is, in my opinion, an inevitability. Chen has it on hold for the moment while he continues to transition BlackBerry and hold down costs, but it’s coming.

Right now all hands are on deck for implementing BES12, eBBM, BES10 Cloud and BBM for Windows Phone. AND, work continues on the BlackBerry 10.3 update (of which we caught an early glimpse).

Once those items are cleared from the development dock, next up will be a new tablet offering from BlackBerry. And in the spirit of platform agnosticism under Chen, perhaps BlackBerry Bridge for Android, iOS and Windows Surface tablets will surface as well – for the enterprise customers that have already committed $ to tablet inventories. And cross platform Bridge will be available at a cheap yearly subscription fee, naturally. Wink

With the investment in NantHealth, I immediately thought of a new tablet device from BlackBerry. I have many friends that are doctors and I know that tablets are a huge growth area for that industry. For Chen to ignore this market would be… well, unlike John Chen based on what we’ve seen from him so far. Not to mention enterprises with Sales forces and regulated industries like local Police forces. It’s a no brainer, and one that could potentially see greater sales than handsets going forward.

But this won’t be like the first iteration of the BlackBerry Tablet – the unfortunately named PlayBook. A device that offered enterprise grade security along with Bridge which rendered it, in effect, a dumb terminal. A device that was released in consumer markets and stores like Best Buy but came without its own native email client. A device that never should have been released as a consumer product in the first place.

This time, perhaps it should be appropriately titled the BlackBerry WorkBook. And it should only be available through direct channels like ShopBlackBerry or carriers. It will offer the full functionality of BlackBerry 10.x and admins in Enterprise will have the option of turning off native email and other personal data aggregation for instances in which the Company Tablet is shared amongst multiple individuals (nurses, sales force, etc.)

In instances where the tablet is tied to an individual user, the ability to store personal email, calendar, et al will be available.

Consumers will be able to purchase the tablet as well, but given the likely limited production runs it’s not going to be cheap.

But it will be well worth it.

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