When second-generation Slingbox products began hitting stores last week, it didn't take long for astute observers to notice the presence of logos for Symbian and--concealed under a black sticker--Palm on the side of the box. We've since confirmed with Sling Media that the company is "working with partners to deliver clients for other mobile platforms including the two mentioned [Symbian and Palm]." However, the same Sling spokesman threw a bit of cold water on an Engadget report pegging the Symbian release by the end of October and the Palm version by the end of the year. Instead, his e-mail specified that he wanted to "reiterate the fact that we have not communicated a release date for these clients."
What does it all mean? I think Sling is just trying to manage expectations. Delays happen (the logos on the boxes certainly indicate that the company expected those clients to be ready by the time the hardware launched), and withholding an "official" announcement gives the company a degree of plausible deniability when the inevitable consumer frustration mounts. Just ask Mac users, who've been waiting for the Mac SlingPlayer client for months. They're the ones who've been the most vocal detractors of the new Slingbox products, and rightfully so: despite the Mac OS logo (right next to Palm and Symbian) on the Slingbox packaging, the Mac client remains in a closed beta.
Of course, we've seen the Mac client in action (Sling execs demoed it for us a few weeks ago), so I'd guess that will be the first non-Windows one to become available. And we hope Sling is just being overly conservative by not officially announcing release dates for the Symbian and Palm versions, both of which would bolster the products' potential usefulness (and audience) immensely.
For all we know, there are even more potential SlingPlayer versions on the agenda. Interestingly, in a recent interview, Sling execs went out of their way to point out the Nintendo DS would be a "better platform" for remote TV viewing than Sony's PSP, and were noncommittal on the possibility of a Zune client. Hmmm...
Photo credit: Zatznotfunny