Is BlackBerry’s mobile-first vision a little too visionary?


BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins took the stage to deliver the keynote at BlackBerry Live earlier today, and he was pretty clear about the company’s top priority as it deploys its much-anticipated new operating system: Heins said BlackBerry will reclaim its lost relevance by “building for mobile first,” as All Things D reports, adding that the “the single element of mobile computing” is “the one on your hip” (fashion faux pas notwithstanding).

Those comments jibe with Heins’ remarks from two weeks ago, when he predicted decreasing demand for tablets over the next several years. And CNET noted today that while BlackBerry sees a role for gadgets with larger screens in the future, its vision is one where the BlackBerry handset serves as a hub for a wider variety of gadgets connected through the smartphone.

I think I understand Heins’ larger point: As the number of connected gadgets we carry and wear explodes, there’s no reason for each of those pieces of hardware to feature its own operating system. Instead, one device can provide access to the internet/cloud through which multiple other devices can connect. That scenario could benefit consumers by providing them with a single “remote control” for all their connected devices as it helps IT departments manage an ever-increasing number of gadgets through far fewer access points.

I think the flaw in that thinking is that it’s simply ahead of its time, however. We are many years away from the kind of inter-connectedness (for lack of a better term) that Heins implies. Meanwhile, the tablet market continues to expand while Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and even Windows Phone are making inroads to the mobile enterprise. I love Heins’ long-term vision, but BlackBerry can’t sacrifice today’s tablet market — and a large slice of the larger mobile enterprise market — based on how we may be using connected devices five years from now.

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