It’s no secret that Research In Motion is a company with a lot of problems. In recent weeks, mainstream media, the tech community and the blogosphere at large have all been abuzz with discussion of ‘what went wrong’ at RIM, with extraordinary stories from current and former employees and executives painting an unflattering picture of an organisation in deep denial of its current situation, and one that has struggled to respond to developments and disruptions in the marketplace.
But despite the many tales of woe, they’re not ready to give up the fight just yet and – if reports from NerdBerry.net are accurate – it seems that RIM is planning to establish a new major product line, joining its vast range of mobile handsets and the new PlayBook tablet.
Codenamed “BlackBerry Cyclone”, the new device is a media hub, similar in concept to Apple TV. Connecting to a display via HDMI, the Cyclone will be WiFi-enabled, allowing it to pull content from the web and from other devices on the same local network. Native Netflix and YouTube streaming support are also expected to be key features.
As of yet, there’s no information on what operating system will power the Cyclone, but with BlackBerry in the midst of a transition to QNX on its mobile devices, it’s probably safe to assume that QNX will be the OS of choice for the new media box, when it arrives later this year.
Creating an Apple TV competitor is certainly a curious direction for RIM, which has always unashamedly focused its efforts on business and enterprise markets, rather than developing products for the consumer. Even with Apple’s extraordinary consumer market share, and the vast repository of content available through iTunes, the Apple TV hasn’t been a major success – and given the increasing competition in this niche market, from the likes of Boxee, Roku and Google TV, it will be interesting to see what tricks RIM has up its sleeve to establish its new product in this crowded space.