Imagine this: A Windows 8 hybrid by BlackBerry

Summary:BlackBerry isn't selling a lot of phones running the latest OS. The company has lots of cash so what if it hedged its bets and built a Windows 8 hybrid for the enterprise?

BlackBerry hybrid
Image credit: James Kendrick/ ZDNet

When you think of BlackBerry you think of phones because that's what the company has usually built. Like other companies, BlackBerry made a brief foray into the hot tablet space, but that may be over given the admission that it won't be releasing BlackBerry 10 (BB10) for the Playbook . I've been thinking about that and I can't shake the crazy idea that to replace the Playbook the company should build a Windows 8 hybrid for the enterprise.

BlackBerry was right to build the Playbook given the growth in the tablet space the last few years. Unfortunately, it botched the launch of the Playbook and it didn't help that the new OS used for it didn't light fires under buyers. 

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On the other hand, the Windows 8 hybrid, tablets that dock with a keyboard unit to morph into a laptop, are appearing all over the place. It's not clear if sales are going to justify all the models appearing constantly but BlackBerry could offer a tie-in to its enterprise services to give it a unique advantage.

Picture a tablet with the build quality and tight design of the Playbook but thinner and with an 11-inch screen. It would have a black matte finish and an elegant design like the Playbook. It would have a high quality laptop dock that would turn it into a real laptop, unlike some hybrids on the market. Of course it would have a dual battery design to offer long battery life for the professional which an Intel Haswell processor would hhelp deliver.

The BlackBerry hybrid, perhaps BlackBook is a fitting name, should have Windows 8 instead of BlackBerry's own OS. Windows 8 is designed from the ground up for hybrid devices and it would be one less thing BlackBerry would have to sell with such a radical new device.

What the company could do is build Windows software solutions to tap the BlackBook into its enterprise services. It could also do Windows tie-ins to make the hybrid work with BlackBerry phones. Think of a complete BlackBerry solution from phones and laptops to the backend servers.

It may seem like a wild idea for BlackBerry to do a Windows 8 hybrid but I think it could pull it off. The company has always produced outstanding hardware and has a great staff of engineers to put on the task of making such a hybrid. It could hire the talent it lacks in this area to jump-start the design and production of such a hybrid.

It's important to remember that BlackBerry has lots of cash reserves to do this project. According to the latest corporate financial report it has $3.1 billion in cash and investments, so the funds are in place. It could do it quickly most likely, and shake up both the mobile space and the Windows 8 tablet/laptop segment.

It would have to get the design right and price it competitively to make a good run of it. The advantage it has over OEMs making Windows 8 hybrids is the ability to make it part of a total business solution for the enterprise. It may be a pipe dream but this writer should would love to see it.

Topics: Laptops, BlackBerry, Mobility


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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