RIM Building BlackBerry TV Service No One Wants

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) plans to announce a mobile TV service for its smartphones as early as next week, NewTeeVee reports, citing “multiple sources.”

The gist: For a monthly fee, RIM will offer unlimited monthly full-episode downloads via wi-fi, and that “multiple broadcast and cable networks” have licensed content for the service.

Well, OK. Perhaps RIM thinks this will make BlackBerry phones look better next to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, which can play videos from the iTunes store. (And has multiple free or cheap video apps, such as CBS’s app or Major League Baseball’s At Bat app.)

But will anyone want to pay for it?

Price will be one factor. But mobile TV, while big on some other continents, is just flat-out unpopular in the U.S. Just 2% of mobile subscribers in the U.S. watch programmed mobile TV on their phones, according to comScore M:Metrics.

And that’s not because it’s not available: Many RIM phones can already access MobiTV, a mobile TV service, and carriers have been advertising mobile TV services for years. (The difference: Instead of streaming the episodes in real-time, RIM’s service would download them to your phone, suggesting you could watch them in the subway, for instance.)

One potential problem: RIM’s wi-fi-only service might not even work on its would-be iPhone killer, the BlackBerry Storm — because RIM and Verizon Wireless decided to keep wi-fi off the device. If there’s any phone RIM should be building a mobile video product for, it’s the Storm — with a big, bright screen, and a mostly consumer (non-enterprise) user base. But unless it’s really cheap and really awesome, we think this is a non-starter.

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