Over the summer, some reports cropped up suggesting RIM was working on a set-top box that would compete against devices like the Apple TV. Dubbed “BlackBerry Cyclone,” the product would reportedly include Netflix streaming, YouTube content, and all kinds of other features.
Soon after that report surfaced, I took to SlashGear to discuss why I believed the device would fail miserably. I told readers that as an enterprise-focused mobile company, it wouldn’t make any sense for RIM to release such a device. And many of you agreed.
Now months later, I thought it might be a good time to revisit that device and its viability as RIM’s stock price continues to plummet.
If you haven’t been watching Wall Street lately, RIM’s stock price has halved in the last 12 months, and is down nearly 60 percent so far this year. Even worse, the company’s financial performance has disappointed investors as revenue and profit figures continue to decline. Just about everywhere I turn, I find shareholders saying that the company needs to do something to fix itself, and that could very well mean taking risks.
So, perhaps now the question is, should RIM try to take a risk by jumping into the set-top box market and surprise shareholders that are looking for a jolt?
Not a chance. As far as I’m concerned, the set-top box market is dead. The Apple TV was the last best hope to revive that market, and although it has sold relatively well, it hasn’t done enough for the average mainstream consumer to want to add another box to their home-theater set-up. The future is in the television, and that’s why so many companies, like Samsung and Vizio, are bringing as many apps as possible to their products.
Given that, maybe it would be a better idea for RIM to develop its own television. After all, it appears that that’s the way the market is headed and if it was really serious about getting into home entertainment, shouldn’t it, for once, be ahead of the curve instead of behind it?
Of course, I kid. I don’t believe that RIM should develop a television any more than I think the company’s co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, know how to get RIM out of the mess it finds itself in. Like it or not, RIM is inexorably tied to the mobile market, and even considering getting into the home-entertainment space tells me everything I need to know about its management.
Right now, RIM should be thinking of ways to improve its smartphones and operating system so more than large companies will want to use its products. The idea that RIM would want to break into the entertainment market (and the fact that its supporters actually think it’s a good idea!) is laughable.
So, let’s allow the BlackBerry Cyclone to die its hard-earned death and never talk of it again. The device would have been a failure from day one, and it would have made RIM a laughing stock in the industry.
And at this point, committing such a huge blunder would be disastrous for RIM and its future.