Dell to Halt Android Tablet Production in Favor of Two-in-One PCs

Today's topics include Dell's dropping Android tablets to focus on two-in-one systems, Lenovo's large buy-in on 95 percent of its NEC holdings, a firmware flaw that's affecting Lenovo ThinkPads and other PC hardware, and major changes at BlackBerry as the company halts production on its Classic keyboard-equipped smartphones.

Dell will be shedding its Android tablet business in order to concentrate on two-in-one systems. It's following in the steps of rivals, such as HP, which announced in late 2015 that it would also exit the low-end consumer tablet market, of which Android makes up a majority, to focus on tablets for niche areas like education, retail and health care.

Dell Vice President Kirk Schell confirmed the news on the company blog. Most technology users employ form-factor PCs, which give them the tools they need to maximize productivity.

Windows-based two-in-one systems, meaning the device can be used as a traditional PC or a tablet, are particularly popular, Schell noted.

Lenovo, currently the world's top PC maker, is looking to expand its influence even further through a bulk purchase of Lenovo NEC Holdings, a joint venture between the two companies in Japan. Following the deal, Lenovo will own 95 percent of the venture. NEC, a monitor manufacturer, will retain a 5 percent share.

When the venture was created five years ago, Lenovo was only the fourth-largest PC maker in the world and NEC was the largest vendor in the Japanese market, up against Toshiba, Fujitsu and Sony.

Although Lenovo continues to focus on its PC business, officials hope to diversify the company portfolio further. Two years ago, Lenovo spent nearly $5 billion to buy IBM's low-end x86 server business as well as Google's Motorola Mobility handset business.

Lenovo was also recently in the news after the company confirmed a report of a serious vulnerability in its ThinkPad computers. The vendor released a statement on June 30, verifying the ThinkPad System Management Mode flaw, but hasn't specified the range of product models that are affected.

The vulnerability was introduced by an independent BIOS vendor, and Lenovo is currently investigating the problem.

Discovered by an independent security researcher, the flaw could allow an attacker to disable Flash write protection, opening the door for malware infection of the platform firmware. Further analysis has indicated that Lenovo isn't the only computer maker affected by the bug.

Lastly, BlackBerry has announced that it will be ending production of its Classic keyboard-equipped smartphones. This news comes in conjunction with word that the U.S. Senate intends to stop offering the iconic phones to members.

Although the moves are unrelated, they support industry belief that BlackBerry will be changing direction to focus further on mobile security software.

This won't surprise many, considering market shares recently hit 0.2 percent globally, down from 11 percent in 2011. The company isn't the smartphone powerhouse it was a decade ago. Company COO Ralph Pini made the announcement on the The BlackBerry Blog July 5.