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Boxee Beta Releases New Social Dashboard – ReadWriteStart December 9, 2009

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In a world where content is king, Boxee has found a way to give entertainment producers the royal treatment. After a successful App challenge and calculated rollouts of its Mac, Windows and Linux releases, internet television platform Boxee is launching into private beta with a new and improved look. ReadWriteWeb got an early look at the product and found out how the company plans to increase its growing user base.

Says Boxee’s VP of marketing Andrew Kippen, “We’re trying to change how people view television. It the past it’s been something people have associated with unhealthiness. Instead of force feeding programs to passive audiences, users are exploring and interacting with web and TV content and each other.”

Kippen hopes that the company’s new design will be more conducive to dialogue and exploration. Rather than appearing like the mobile app interface of an iPhone, the new Boxee offers an experience much like that of social dashboard Seesmic. In addition to OAuth integration, users will notice the following changes.


New Homepage

With Boxee Beta, users are greeted by a dashboard with three columns in the form of a newsfeed, featured content and a program queue. The newsfeed offers starred content and comments from Boxee, Twitter and Facebook friends. The center column is reserved for featured community content. In the future this area will be monetized through a pay-to-promote program. And finally, the program queue lets you to keep track of your Netflix queue and latest Boxee-related TV subscriptions.

TV and Video

In the past users were asked to differentiate between their local and web files. Boxee Beta mixes local and web content in recognition that users simply want to watch their favorite programs regardless of the formats or location of files. Instead of filtering by types of file or having to open an application, Boxee Beta has a new integrated search feature and allows us to pull up files by genre and price, rather than having to switch between file types. The company also organizes your favorite TV shows by episode and season.

Some New Applications

Social : While both Justin.tv and Hulu’s Watch Now Facebook application allow users to chat alongside their favorite entertainment programs, nothing beats the resolution of your home entertainment system. The Clipsync application lets viewers interact with others while watching content on Boxee. Some examples of activity include trivia games and chat.

Super Fandom: If you’ve ever wanted to have yourself a Kurt Russell movie marathon, then the Clicker Boxee application is your answer. ReadWriteWeb recently covered the web version of Clicker as a TV guide for web video and the Boxee application allows users to pull in all the relevant metadata on shows, channels and even actors.

Niche Content: Boxee Beta’s latest content partners include The Escapist gaming network with episodes like the ever-popular Zero Punctuation video game reviews as well as the Suicide Girls’ community programming. By changing Boxee’s default settings to allow for adult content, users will discover that a number of additional adult applications exist.

via Boxee Beta Releases New Social Dashboard – ReadWriteStart.


The Problem With the Boxee Box – GigaOM November 25, 2009

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Boxee generated a lot of excitement on the part of online video fans when it said it would release a dedicated hardware device that will enable users to connect its open-source media center software directly to their TVs. But by becoming a hardware company, Boxee may have to choose between alienating its biggest fans and alienating potential content partners.

As Sam over at OStatic points out, much of Boxee’s success stems from a “very enthusiastic community of users” that has helped augment its media center platform by building out various content channels. But while some content owners have created their own channels, not all channels are built by the content owners themselves — or even sanctioned by them. As just one example, Boxee’s new chief creative officer, Zach Klein, told an audience at the Future of Television conference in New York last week that when he joined Boxee he was surprised to find that users had built channels for IAC’s Vimeo and College Humor, where he previously worked, without that company’s permission.

We saw the possible repercussions of such unsanctioned channel-building earlier this year, when Boxee got into a public cat-and-mouse game with Hulu over the online video site’s content being available through Boxee’s software. Since then, Hulu has gotten even more aggressive in trying to protect its content from being embedded on video aggregation sites without its permission.

Boxee has always defended its software by saying that it was just another browser, even if it was clearly meant to be used for navigating online video content when a user’s laptop is connected to a TV. But by becoming a hardware play, the company may have to rethink what content it makes available.

And therein lies the rub. If Boxee simply ports the software and all the channels that it and others have created into its Boxee Box without the permission of content owners — in other words, if it’s committed to remaining open and allowing anyone to build content channels for the device — then it risks alienating potential content partners. Or worse, it risks getting itself into legal trouble for distributing copyrighted content to the TV without getting the content owners’ permission.

For now the company says it’s committed to providing the same content on the Boxee Box that’s available through its desktop software — even if it doesn’t have rights to distribute that content. In an email to NewTeeVee, Andrew Kippen, Boxee’s vice president of marketing, writes, “It’s always been our goal to keep a consistent experience across all platforms — Windows, Mac, Linux, AppleTV, and now, the Boxee Box. We’ll do our best to make sure our users can access the same content across all the different platforms.”

The alternative would be for Boxee to provide content on the device only from companies with which it’s officially partnered, such as Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Current, Pandora, Digg and Tumblr. But there’s also a whole lot of content on Boxee from major broadcast video sites or cable networks that Boxee doesn’t have deals with, like Hulu, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central or MTV.

While Boxee is taking a chance by making unverified content available without a deal, others are playing it safe. Roku, which already sells a broadband-connected set-top device, only has content from partners available through its channel store. The company also issued an SDK earlier this year that will allow just about anyone to build their own content channels for Roku devices. But in that environment — on its platform and on its box — Roku will have the ultimate say when it comes to who is included.

If Boxee kowtows to content owners, the platform will not only become less open but it will also mean it will offer less content than what it currently makes available — which could make it less attractive to consumers.

via The Problem With the Boxee Box – GigaOM.

LiLi: Chat through your TV with Cliqset, Boxee October 14, 2009

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Cliqset, a social content-sharing startup, has launched a partnership with Boxee to let users chat with friends on their TVs. The Gainesville, Fla.-based startup also launched a desktop client for its content sharing site, which resembles a cross between FriendFeed and Twitter. Cliqset pulls in data from about 70 social networks to let you know what your friends are doing across the web, but it doesn’t have the same strict 140-character limits that Twitter enforces.cliqset

“We want to show how flexible we’ve made our APIs, so you can add social features in traditional places where you wouldn’t expect to see them,” said Darren Bounds, a co-founder of Cliqset.

To use the service, you have to sign up for Boxee, then add Cliqset’s application from Boxee’s App Box. Once a person has loaded the app, they can talk to friends on TV, as long as they’re watching the same show. Boxee’s a streaming video startup that’s won an ardent fan base for letting people watch online video content on their TVs. It has attracted about a half million users, and raised $6 million in a second round of funding in August.

The company’s new desktop client is similar to Tweetdeck or Seesmic, but is compatible with Cliqset. Based on Adobe AIR, the client lets you send updates out to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn among other social networks. You can also keep track of inbound data from all these sites so that you can comment and discuss them.

Cliqset has raised $2 million to date, all from a single investor named Derek Mercer, who founded Vurv Technology, a talent management startup that human resources company Taleo bought in 2008 for about $130 million.

via Chat through your TV with Cliqset, Boxee | VentureBeat.

Boxee Watches $6 Million More In Funding Stream In August 12, 2009

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Boxee, the media center software startup, has won a lot of fans with its open approach to streaming content. And as a result it has won some more money, to the tune of a $6 million second round, led by Boston’s General Catalyst Partners. The new money will be used for growth: Both expanding the team and expanding the service’s reach in the market, we’re told.[…]

At the same time, Boxee is working hard to get the beta version of its software out the door (it’s still currently in Alpha). Back in June, it previewed that release while also unleashing a huge update to its service which finally included support for Windows. With that important support, the service now has over 600,000 users, we’re told.

via Boxee Watches $6 Million More In Funding Stream In.

Will TV Ever Get an App Store Moment? — GigaOM Pro July 1, 2009

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Today’s TV application marketplace is in a similar, pre-App Store state today: lots of competing software platforms, a growing number of connected devices (but none dominant) and a fairly small number of apps. So, when will the TV have its App Store moment?

To answer that question, it pays to compare the two markets further. Much like the mobile market, PayTV has been controlled by the iron fist of the carriers over the past decade, leaving little room for innovation outside of DVRs and high-definition video. While some interactive features have been integrated, particularly by IPTV providers, there has been little to no development of open application marketplaces by carriers.

The good news is that there are many more hardware options for acquiring and using apps for on-TV display than there are for mobile apps: game consoles, media adapters, third-party hardware (such as Apple TV), computers and, increasingly, the TV itself.  The combined force of such diverse enabling technologies is likely to be harnessed to eventually create a real market. Because of the more bountiful options for hardware and connectivity in the TV space vis-a-vis mobile (where control of the network and handset is nearly required), the door for new entrants can be kicked open more quickly. Once someone gets the right mix of a well-tuned storefront, a bounty of enticing apps, and good on-screen experience, the consumer will see the light.

Some alternatives have shown early signs of success — particularly game consoles. Xbox Live has proven there is a market for downloadable games with Xbox Live, and has also had success outside of the gaming category with Netflix Instant Streaming. But even accounting for Xbox Live Arcade and Netflix360, a similar tectonic shift for TV apps equivalent to the arrival of Apple’s App Store has yet to occur.

Right now, the odds-on favorites in a TV-app market are Microsoft, Apple and Nintendo, all of which have end-to-end hardware, software and online delivery assets, not to mention robust app development environments (a key difference from carriers and traditional consumer electronics players). Google and Yahoo could also seize opportunity here; Android is soon to appear in set-top boxes, and Yahoo’s widget platform has proved quite popular. Lastly, don’t count out players like Boxee and Vizio.

The underpinnings for a TV app revolution are already in place. While there’s no clear winner yet, the rise of connected TVs and associated platforms and the continued push by scrappy competitors to control the third screen mean the TV application market place will soon be as vibrant as Potsdamer Platz in the summertime.

via Will TV Ever Get an App Store Moment? — GigaOM Pro.

Windows version of boxee open to all June 23rd June 7, 2009

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Drooling over boxee on other platforms but haven’t been able to nab an invite to the Windows alpha? De-stress, CEO Avner Ronen announced the plan is to open things up starting June 23. Other things touched upon at the Connections digital entertainment conference Wednesday included his belief that TV is going the way of the internet and that tech giants need to just let it happen, and the company’s potential to make money from its media streaming platform, possibly from content providers for pushing their shows, collecting a fee from for-pay add-ons in an application store, or licensing boxee to hardware makers. Don’t worry too much about a money grab on the way anytime soon, with a zero-dollar revenue goal for the year. In the meantime, chill and check out a preview of the Windows version and an example of how it can work as a simple Windows Media Center plugin.

via Windows version of boxee open to all June 23rd.

boxee blog » announcing the boxee app dev challenge May 6, 2009

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the new boxee API enables developers to build and publish apps for boxee users. while people are working on a variety of boxee apps, we thought it would be a good idea to provide some extra incentive for the developers.

the boxee dev challenge will have 3 categories: Video, Music and Photos.

in each category we will have a People’s Choice award and a Judge’s Choice award:

People’s Choice Award: Drobo

Judge’s Choice Award: Sony Bravia XBR9 46″

the deadline for submitting your application is June 14th at 11:59pm PT, but we encourage you to submit early and often as we’ll be talking up cool applications as they come in.

voting will take place between June 15th – June 22nd.

on June 23rd will have a boxee event in San Francisco (RSVP here) announcing the People’s Choice and our esteemed judges will choose a winner from the 10 most popular apps in each category.

via boxee blog » announcing the boxee app dev challenge.

ZeeVee takes on Boxee with Zinc (OS X) April 12, 2009

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ZeeVee launched the clever but overpriced and perhaps overly complex ZvBox last summer – which streamed a variety of media from PC over coax to QAM-tuning televisions throughout the home. I don’t imagine sales were strong. But Zeevee has found success by commercializing their technology. And the Zviewer software took on a life of its own. Rumors of ZvBox mothballing their consumer hardware have been greatly exaggerated… new stuff’s in the pipeline.

Back to Zinc (formerly Zviewer) – which they’re calling an ‘Internet video browser.’ And indeed it really is a browser. Unlike Boxee, which has built their application on top of XBMC, Zinc is a super-customized Mozilla (Firefox) build. Meaning, it’s likely web video can’t be blocked. (Related, Boxee tacked on a browser as the latest salvo in their ongoing Hulu battle.) I’m not certain what Zeevee’s release timing is, but the beta build I’m playing with makes it seem pretty close.

ZeeVee takes on Boxee with Zinc (OS X)

Is internet TV the key to à la carte? March 30, 2009

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There’s been a lot of controversy over the years in regards to à la carte cable programming, and more recenlty, Hulu no longer playing nice with Boxee. The two are related to each other because in both cases, consumers think they’ll lead to cheaper content. And let’s be honest — both seem appealing because we want to spend less money for the same content. The problem, of course, is that if we’re spending less money, then someone is going to lose that revenue; and it goes without saying that any decent business model requires more revenue, not less. So those big corporations collecting all of those subscription fees are obviously going to have a problem with the idea. Now the conundrum comes in when you throw Netflix in the mix. Rather than nickel and diming you to death (much like your cable company), Netflix wants to give you an all-you-can-eat buffet for a monthly fee. The irony here is that while Hollywood loves subscriptions when it comes to cable TV, that’s not so much the case when it comes to Netflix. The reason is simple — we know you see this coming — it’s because the monthly fee is about three times that of a Netflix bill.

via Is internet TV the key to à la carte?.

Why aren’t we all watching TV via the web? March 29, 2009

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The old broadcast format of scheduled programming should be dead by now. Time-shifting – recording shows onto a storage device to watch whenever you want, rather than when they’re broadcast – and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) were supposed to have been the final headshot for a medium weakened by repeated blows from ‘new’ forms of entertainment. […]

What we lack is an application to aggregate all this media, bringing it together into one manageable place on our desktops like a virtual set-top box. But it’s not for the want of trying.  […]

The best systems allow for simple embedding. The top of the class – if you’re lucky enough to be in the US or behind a proxy server – is Hulu. This serves up content via a simple Flash applet and its range of shows and clips can be added to any website. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the majority of companies here, due to a reliance on the increasingly anachronistic Windows DRM.

Similar plans to move things forward with an uber-iPlayer standard for all of the UK terrestrial networks – dubbed Project Kangaroo – recently hit the skids after the Competition Commission vetoed work on it due to complaints from the likes of Virgin Media and Sky. At the moment the project seems to be dead in the water, but it’s not impossible that a third party will try the same sort of thing at some point in the future.

Other promising developments also exist. Cisco claims it’s working hard with the movie studios to make premium video feeds available on all your web-enabled devices through its new media-friendly hardware and Eos net platform: a site-design tool that standardises online distribution. It’s early days, but the list of studios who’ve signed up for it suggests that video producers are catching on to the fact that the only way they’ll beat torrent sites is by making their content more convenient to access.

The sad truth, though, is that despite technology so perfectly suited to desktop and mobile phone web apps, it’s the television manufacturers that are making the most progress with IPTV on demand. Nearly every major vendor now has a full range of sets available that can stream shows or movies direct from Internet sources such as CinemaNow and Netfix, using a browser that matches their standard on-screen displays.

PC users, for the time being, must instead be content with their supply of YouTube clips, a huge bookmarks folder or a plethora of bandwidth hungry applications for each potential source.