Is RIM Looking to Move Into Your Living Room?
The VAR Guy wants to know: Would you buy an AppleTV-style offering from Research In Motion? Apparently, the company behind the BlackBerry and BlackBerry PlayBook is pushing its luck by introducing another consumer product into an already burgeoning marketplace. Does The VAR Guy have some perspective for the channel? Wouldn’t be the blogger at large if he didn’t …
The tip of The VAR Guy’s fedora goes to blog Nerdberry.com for following up on the story and allegedly confirming the rumors. It’s been reported that the BlackBerry device, with the codename “Cyclone,” will look similar to the BlackBerry Presenter, a device that lets users push Adobe PDF files and PowerPoint files from their BlackBerry to a TV. According to Nerdberry.com, the Cyclone will take it up a notch, adding access to Netflix, YouTube and associated media activities as do many other media boxes.
Sounds fun! But it also sounds like pretty much every other media box. RIM is up against Roku, Boxee Box, AppleTV, Western Digital and Vudu, just to name a few. Plus, Let’s not forget that every other new Android tablet supports some form of HDMI out — heck, so does Apple’s own iPad, albeit with a special dongle.
So, what’s RIM’s plan with this device? Like most things from RIM, it’s likely the cross-device connections that will make it appealing. Owners of the BlackBerry Playbook and a BlackBerry phone will reap the greatest benefits — they’ll all play nice together, pushing media all around to each other and on to the user’s big screen TV. Users may even be able to do screen mirroring with their PlayBook onto their TV. But here’s the problem: How many people have fully bought into the entire RIM ecosystem? More importantly, if you haven’t already bought into it, why start now? Those few BlackBerry users our resident blogger is close with also enjoy an Apple device or two in their home, from a MacBook to an iPod Touch. He even knows a few BlackBerry users who have converted to Android, for better or worse.
RIM current issue is greater than trying to enter a crowded market with day-old technology; it’s trying to convince people its ecosystem is a sustainable and viable one. It’s also (sadly) about convincing people RIM is “cool” again. RIM has quality innovation inside the PlayBook but after tepid demand and reviews, it’s not off to a good start. RIM has also been quiet about the upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900 series, which it announced May 2011, slated for a summer 2011 release and subsequently delayed until September 2011. The 9900 will not be running the QNX (PlayBook) operating system, which has huge potential to take RIM up a notch; rather, the 9900 is essentially the last refresh of a 2008-era phone. QNX phones, meanwhile, won’t be hitting the market until 2012. Ouch.
The VAR Guy is familiar with IT admin love of BlackBerry’s superior enterprise integration, so for the channel, our resident blogger wonders how useful it would be to have a RIM-specific (and IT-blessed) media device for boardrooms. But since RIM is — again — so late to this game, it would seem many people have already found a solution for presentation problems. Frankly, The VAR Guy is surprised RIM would go ahead with this strategy (assuming the rumors are true), especially when it’s clear which areas RIM should focus on.
Meanwhile, let The VAR Guy know if you would use the rumored BlackBerry Cyclone. Channel partners and RIM aficionados, weigh in: Is an IT-ready media hub in your future budget? Does RIM’s future hang in the balance?