PlayBook hits market with National Film Board app

Canada’s National Film Board will get featured on Research in Motion Ltd.’s PlayBook as a pre-loaded app when the much-awaited tablet hits the market Tuesday, giving the device’s users the ability to view 1,500 films, including drama, documentaries and new and classic animation.


“What we’re trying to do here at NFB is increase the accessibility of our content,” said Joël Pomerleau, director of platform development with the National Film Board of Canada.

Not only does the union make sense given the two companies are Canadian, but Pomerleau said the PlayBook’s high-definition screen, sound and resolution quality is a great platform for viewing the content.

NFB already has mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices in addition to its online Screening Room on its Web site. But the PlayBook features an “exclusive HD channel,” said Pomerleau.

The NFB has a mandate to develop new capabilities on the NFB platform, of which mobile apps is one. Pomerleau said the iPhone app became available in 2009 and, while it was meant to be a “small project,” it reaped phenomenal results. “It’s a big portion of our traffic these days,” he said.

While RIM’s presence has been largely corporate, Pomerleau thinks that having an app such as that of the NFB will give the Waterloo, Ont.-based device maker some visibility in the consumer sphere. “I think our content appeals to the general public as well as the business user,” he said.

According to Richard Martin, founder and president of Montreal-based Alcera Consulting Inc., RIM’s initial launch of its PlayBook is first and foremost designed to meet corporate needs with its advantages of data security. But the device is also meant to be an initial offering for the consumer space that will improve across the next several months, he said.


“In same way that Apple pretends to not actively pursue corporate clientele, they still sell into that market,” said Martin. So that chips away at RIM’s market.”

But, the PlayBook’s grand entrance has been unfortunately delayed while RIM was busy tweaking the device to mitigate risks and re-designing it in light of Apple’s iPad. However, Martin thinks the device maker really could not afford a further delay while trying to build the perfect tablet.

“The issue is it’s taken them basically a year or two to bring it to market,” said Martin.

In the meantime, Apple, and to a lesser extent Android-based tablets, are slowly encroaching on RIM’s space in the business world, which is why Martin is calling the PlayBook’s launch a “pre-emptive move” designed to stop others eyeing the secure tablet market.

The day before the PlayBook is set to launch, reports surface that RIM is considering bidding for Nortel Networks Corp.’s patents and patent applications. It’s a move against Google Inc.’s US$900 million bid. 

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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