Over the past few years there has been a lot of exploration with smartphone docking stations. Motorola tried it with their lapdock coupled with the Motorola Atrix and currently; ASUS is trying it out with their PadFone line. While none of those could be called a consumer success there is still plenty of interest out there for those products.
Over at Patent Bolt some older RIM patents have been dug up and those patents show that RIM could be working to fill those interests. The patents outline a netbook-like docking station that allows smartphone owners to interact with their device on a larger display all while charging it at the same time. Have a look at the background explanation.
With the advent of more robust electronic systems, advancements of electronic devices are becoming more prevalent. Electronic devices can provide a variety of functions including, for example, telephonic functions, electronic messaging functions and other personal information manager (PIM) application functions, Handheld electronic devices can include mobile stations, such as cellular telephones, smart telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, and desktop computers.
Such electronic devices allow the user to perform several functions, including placing voice calls and interacting with content, including text messages, email messages, address books, calendars, task lists, word processing documents and browser content. Existing electronic devices are heavy and bulky. The weight and bulk of existing electronic devices are generally attributable to large-sized components, heavy batteries and connector terminals. What is needed is a technology that separates the electronic device into a light-weight wireless control module that communicates with a docking station module using a short range radio communication device and a docking station module that communicates with a cellular network using a long range radio communication device.
Again, the concept isn't really new though it is certainly interesting given some of RIM CEO Thorsten Heins' most recent comments. Add in the fact that RIM has patents for such things and you can easily see where this might end up.
With plenty of talk about BlackBerry 10 and next generation mobile computing platforms happening, I'm starting to believe the BlackBerry PlayBook wasn't just RIM wanting to enter the tablet market but rather a testing ground for bigger things once BlackBerry 10 was fully ready.
If it comes to fruition, hopefully RIM will learned from the others mistakes and actually do it rght. Have a great design, market it perfectly, price it within reach of everyone who wants one.