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Is This Why BlackBerry Thinks the Tablet Is Dead?



New patent applications that showcase a smartphone with a flexible screen may be why BlackBerry thinks tablets may not have staying power

The patents, which were uncovered this week by PatentBolt, showcase a design that uses flexible display technology to create a device that’s altogether different from both of the candybar and clamshell designs the company has used in the past.

As described in the patent application this device would have a physical keyboard that slides out of its bottom. BlackBerry believes that it could trade out the keyboard with anything from a QWERTY keyboard, gamepad, touchpad, or even a trackball.

blackberry flexible phone patent

A figure from the BlackBerry flexible phone prototype uncovered by PatentBold

The screen itself would snap into a sort of straightened up right position when moved to do so, otherwise it would remain bent over that aforementioned input area. While this patent was filed in the fourth quarter of 2011 and thus could have been scrapped by the company at this point that it even moved to think outside of the box when coming up with new handset designs is telling. Historically BlackBerry seems to prefer to make devices that have QWERTY keyboards.

BlackBerry only recently launched its own first-class touch experience with the BlackBerry Z10 running the BlackBerry 10 operating system and the company already has a checkered history with tablets.

Another figure from the BlackBerry flexible phone prototype uncovered by PatentBold

Another figure from the BlackBerry flexible phone prototype uncovered by PatentBold

During an interview with Bloomberg this past April, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins had very little positive to say about the tablet form factor remarking only that, “Maybe a big screen in your workspace but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model”. They most certainly aren’t, at least not for BlackBerry. The company released its own tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook in 2011, however the tablet never took off, possibly because of the operating system’s lack of polish, and quality applications. BlackBerry has yet to announce a follow up to the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Read: BlackBerry CEO Doesn’t See A Future for Tablets

A mobile device, as described in this patent filing could be the middle grown BlackBerry is looking for to attract users with new exciting form factors while not trying to follow in the footsteps of more successful tablet makers like Apple, and to some limited extent, Microsoft.

Read: LG Hints at Optimus Phone With Unbreakable 5-inch Flexible Display

LG Display recently showcased a new series of flexible OLED and AMOLED displays that could be used in a device like the one showcased in BlackBerry’s patents.

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