It seems as though Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) can’t catch a break. The BlackBerry maker was hoping for some positive spin when it released PlayBook 2.0, the operating system update demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show back in January. The update makes the company’s PlayBook tablet —a poorly selling and seemingly rushed effort that lacked key functionality and has subsequently been steeply discounted by retailers— a much more compelling device.
Then news broke only a few days later that Netflix (NASDAQ:NLFX), a leader in online streaming video, has no plans to support BlackBerry devices, or the PlayBook. Quoted in Toronto’s Globe & Mail, a Netflix rep Tweeted: “We don’t have any current plans to support BlackBerry devices, including PlayBook.” Ouch.
To understand why the Netflix stance is such a blow, consider the list of devices and operating systems it does support:
- All current video game consoles, including Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3, Nintendo’s (PINK:NTDOY) Wii, and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360.
- Blu-Ray Players from Dynex, LG (PINK:LGEAF), Samsung (PINK:SSNLF), Sharp (PINK:SHCAY), Panasonic (NYSE:PC) and Toshiba (PINK:TOSBF).
- HDTVs from Insignia, Haier, LG, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Vizio, and Toshiba.
- Set-top boxes including AppleTV, Boxee, and D-Link.
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromebooks.
- Smart home theater systems from LG and Samsung.
- Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
- Android smartphones and tablets.
- Windows mobile smartphones and tablets.
- Windows and Mac personal computers, laptops, and netbooks.
In other words, if a device can connect to the Internet, it seems as though Netflix is willing to make streaming movies and TV shows available. The fact that Netflix, which is reckoning with the departure of movie channel Starz from its lineup, doesn’t believe it’s worth the effort needed to make its service available to BlackBerry or PlayBook users speaks volumes about what it thinks of RIM’s future.
Marketing efforts and a new CEO are one thing, but the Netflix blow speaks to the fact that Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president of developer relations, needs to step up. He was quoted on BlackBerry Cool as saying “500,000 apps are meaningless,” in an apparent swipe at the robust app ecosphere for iOS and Android devices. But when Netflix—a still highly popular and virtually ubiquitous service—snubs your platform, you have much bigger problems than sniping about apps that may be duplicates or fluff.
The best that RIM can take out of this is the word “current.” An optimist might say that Netflix isn’t dismissing RIM outright, but taking a wait-and-see approach to see whether PlayBook and BlackBerry market share improves as new operating systems and hardware are rolled out.