Is RIM Making a Set-Top Box Like Apple TV? Doubtful.
Research in Motion will reportedly try taking over televisions with a BlackBerry set-top box, but don't call it an Apple TV killer just yet.
The rumor, reported by Nerdberry, says this device is codenamed BlackBerry Cyclone, and will look like a larger version of the BlackBerry Presenter (pictured). The BlackBerry media box reportedly will connect to TVs by HDMI and play Netflix movies, YouTube videos and content from other media devices over Wi-Fi.
A BlackBerry media box would be a strange side-step for RIM, which at the moment is struggling to stay relevant in smartphones. RIM already had to delay its upcoming batch of BlackBerry 7 phones to add better hardware and keep pace with the competition, and the BlackBerry Playbook tablet has some serious problems of its own. Consumers aren't clamoring for a BlackBerry set-top box, so it's hard to imagine why RIM would divert resources to such a project.
Besides, as Boy Genius Report points out, RIM has no iTunes equivalent for distributing content. A home entertainment set-top box wouldn't be complete without on-demand video, but negotiating content deals with movie studios and TV networks would be a huge headache. RIM has no app ecosystem that would work on TVs, either.
That's one reason to be skeptical of this rumor. Here's another: If you look at an earlier rumor from N4BB.com on the same topic, it says the product will be "less consumer focused than Apple TV" and a crossover from the BlackBerry Presenter, which is a small device that wirelessly displays PowerPoint presentations.
So here's my best guess at what's happening: RIM wants to launch a small set-top box that can run PowerPoint presentations or other content from a BlackBerry phone, working in similar fashion to Apple's AirPlay technology (hence the Apple TV comparisons). This would be a business-focused device for giving presentations, displaying documents or otherwise collaborating on a big screen, with YouTube and Netflix thrown in just for kicks. That's all speculation on my part, but it seems more likely than RIM going head-on into the home entertainment market.