BlackBerry takes another shot at a tablet -- sort of

The company partners with Samsung to modify a Galaxy Tab tablet with high-security software, as the firms go after business and government customers.

Natalie Weinstein Former Senior Editor / News
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Natalie Weinstein
2 min read

BlackBerry says the SecuTablet will be a "high security" version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, shown here. James Martin/CNET

BlackBerry is taking another stab at the tablet business, albeit through a backdoor.

On Saturday, at the CeBIT tech conference in Germany, the company unveiled the SecuTablet -- developed by Samsung, IBM and Secusmart, a Germany-based security-software maker BlackBerry bought last year.

The "high-security" tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 modified with a Secusmart Security Card for voice and data encryption and with IBM's "app wrapping" to separate secured work apps from less secure personal ones, BlackBerry said.

BlackBerry has struggled to regain traction since its smartphone market share began to plunge years ago. The company currently has less than 1 percent share of the mobile market. John Chen, who took over as BlackBerry CEO in late 2013, has been working to build the company back up bit by bit.

Four years ago, BlackBerry introduced its first tablet, the consumer-oriented PlayBook , only to see it rapidly sink before finally discontinuing it altogether. The SecuTablet is set for release this summer. Its target audience will be corporations and governments seeking to keep out spies and criminals.

At the Mobile World Congress conference earlier this month in Spain, Chen hinted at the company's re-entry to the tablet market. "It's not in the works, but it's on my mind," Chen said at the time.

Technically, the SecuTablet is not a BlackBerry tablet because it doesn't run BlackBerry's operating system, so Chen may still have something up his sleeve.

Germany's Federal Office for Information Security is currently assessing the tablet to certify it for government use with classified information, BlackBerry said.