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5/13/2010
03:11 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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RIM Working On Crippled TabletBerry?

Inside sources have revealed that Research In Motion is working on some sort of tablet device. Rather than be a full, stand-alone product, however, the TabletBerry will be a companion device for BlackBerries. I have a four-letter word for RIM...

Inside sources have revealed that Research In Motion is working on some sort of tablet device. Rather than be a full, stand-alone product, however, the TabletBerry will be a companion device for BlackBerries. I have a four-letter word for RIM......and is it "fail."

Here are the details: The Boy Genius Report's sources sent it some information. Those sources say that RIM is looking to bring a tablet-style device to market by the end of the year. It will have an 8.9-inch screen. Rather than be a stand-alone computing device, it will tether to BlackBerries via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It won't have a cellular radio, like the iPad 3G does. Rather than be a new computing platform, it will be more for consuming media, such as e-books, movies, and music.

The part that scares me is that Boy Genius' sources call it a companion product. Though the basic use of the TabletBerry would appear to be similar to Apple's iPad, Apple never positioned the iPad as a companion device. Instead, Apple is pitching it as a fully independent machine. If all the information presented about RIM's tablet is accurate, RIM is completely ignoring the past and will be doomed if it repeats it.

Let's spin the clock back three years. At the AllThingsD conference in 2007, Palm stood up and introduced the Foleo. The Foleo was to be a Palm smartphone companion device, basically a larger screen and keyboard for a Palm Treo. A Treo would dock with the Foleo, which would then provide added display real estate and room for typing messages. The product was met with such derision, that Palm killed the concept before ever bringing it to market.

That hasn't stopped others from trying. A company called Redfly makes something similar to the Foleo. It works with BlackBerries and Windows Mobile smartphones, and essentially offers an easier way to interact with those smartphones. I have no idea how well or how poorly Redfly's devices sell, but I can honestly say that the only time I have ever seen one was at a Redfly booth at a trade show.

What makes all of this worse is that multiple RIM insiders have confided with the Boy Genius and said that they are very frustrated with the direction of this particular product. If RIM is going to go down this path, I'd caution the company to stop, reevaluate whatever it is working on, and make sure it is bringing the right product to market.

[Via Boy Genius Report]

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