BlackBerry launches tablet with Samsung, IBM, after Playbook debacle

BlackBerry has launched a tablet in partnership with IBM and Samsung, aimed squarely at government and enterprise customers and coming a few years after a failed bid in the consumer tablet market fell short.

Looking to strengthen its hand as the go-to brand for businesses, the Canadian smartphone maker unveiled its "high-security" SecuTABLET, just weeks after pulling the curtains back on a new iteration of its BlackBerry handheld. The tablet device is based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, and is being shown off by Secusmart—a company BlackBerry bought last year—at tech conference CeBIT in Germany this week.

"Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry's portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions," Hans-Christoph Quelle, CEO of Secusmart said in a statement.


The release of the SecuTABLET is the latest enterprise launch from BlackBerry, as it struggles with declining smartphone market share and narrows its focus on the business space. BlackBerry has not yet given details about pricing and availability.

In 2011, BlackBerry tried—yet failed—to challenge the Apple iPad's dominance in tablets with the Playbook, a sleek device that critics ultimately found unsatisfying for lack of applications and other functions. BlackBerry was forced to take a writedown on the tablet. Earlier this month, CEO John Chen told reporters that he was open to re-entering the tablet market in some form.

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The Canadian firm released a touch screen mid-range smartphone at Mobile World Congress earlier this month, and announced that some of its services will be integrated with Samsung's KNOX business enterprise platform.

BlackBerry has been opening up more of its software to be compatible with other operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS as it continues to focus future growth on software and services.

For the SecuTABLET, IBM will provide a so-called "app wrapping" solution which protects certain apps with a higher level of encryption. BlackBerry said, however, that personal apps such as Facebook and Twitter can still be used.

Secusmart will also include its Security Card technology, which is a microSD card that provides ultra-high level encryption. The German company says on its website that it would take "149 billion years to crack" its encryption code.

The device is undergoing certification at the German Federal Office for Information Security, in order to obtain a security rating that would make it eligible to be used by government officials.