BlackBerry PlayBook Executive Departs Company

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Head of BlackBerry PlayBook resigns as company waves goodbye to tablets

The BlackBerry executive responsible for the BlackBerry PlayBook is leaving the company, not long after it was revealed the tablet would not be upgraded to BlackBerry 10, effectively ending support for the device.

David J Smith is reported to have resigned for “personal reasons” a few weeks ago but is still working at BlackBerry during a period of transition.

He is the latest executive to depart the troubled Canadian manufacturer and it is expected that more middle management positions will be axed as it seeks to cut its workforce further.

RIP BlackBerry PlayBook?

PlaybookCEO Thorsten Heins revealed the PlayBook would not be updated during a call to investors earlier this month, reneging on BlackBerry’s promise that an upgrade would be forthcoming.

BlackBerry sold 100,000 tablets during the three months leading up to the end of June 2013, but Heins said the company was unable to get BlackBerry 10 to run to satisfactory levels on the tablet and therefore decided to alter its plans.

Heins appears to be unconvinced by tablets, going on record as saying he didn’t expect the format to last much longer. He has been guarded about the company’s future tablet strategy, saying only that it was trying to find a way to combine software and services, as it has done with its smartphones.

He promised the tablet would continue to be supported, but Smith’s departure suggests BlackBerry is calling time on the device, which has endured a troubled existence since it launched in 2011, with many core features missing.

Smartphone focus

Glaring oversights, such as the ability to access emails without requiring users to tether a BlackBerry smartphone, were rectified with the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 software update in February 2012, but commentators suggested it was “too little, too late.”

BlackBerry’s focus appears to be on its smartphone business, but the introduction of devices running BlackBerry 10 has failed to revive its ailing fortunes and the company posted a £55 million loss in the first quarter of its fiscal 2014.

This has led many investors to question its ability to stage a recovery, however Heins has called for patience as he implements his “three stage” plan to return the company to profit, despite falling share prices.

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