Saturday, February 21, 2009

Industry Tries to Stop Boxee

I spotted this post about Boxee on Silicon Valley Insider. I downloaded Boxee just before CES. Great app. I was looking for a cheap alternative to Apple TV. After CES, it moved above on the radar for some folks in 'the industry' and they are apparently pretty unhappy about it.

By John Murrell at Silicon Valley Insider writes, "this disruption is driving the entertainment overlords into defensive positions based on arbitrary distinctions, just look at the current contretemps between Hulu and Boxee...

Boxee is media center software that makes it easy to watch online content on your television via a connected computer or device like AppleTV. Essentially, as explained by board member and investor Fred Wilson, it’s a Web browser optimized for TVs the way a mobile browser is optimized for phones....

...I’d guess Hulu had a deal to show ‘content’ on computers, and the ‘content providers’ balked when those computers started talking to their precious televisions.”

I am not sure studios can maintain this position indefinitely. They may look to DRM to prevent free access to content off their annointed platforms, but DRM isn't going to stop it for ever.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Must See Internet TV

Lately, I have come to realize that how I want to consume media and information has changed. I am no longer satisfied with my current experience. For the longest time, I have been happy to check my Blackberry for email, news, etc., during the day. I could also disappear into my office to catch up with the WSJ, Ny Times and industry Web sites. Some days, I actually watch TV news or read a printed version of magazine or newspaper. But, this post isn't about how I have chosen the Internet over traditional media as my primary vehicle for information. That changed happened a long time ago for me. This is about how my Internet experience needs to move into my life more seemlessly.

My Blackberry may have been the first agent of change in my life. I love it, and not in an unhealthy, addicted, "Crackberry," can't miss a single email kind of way. I love it because I can get movie times any place, any time. I love it because I can check the stock market (As painful as it is) whenever I want. I read the NY Times almost every day now that I can read it on my Blackberry. Beyond all this, I love that I can do research, get directions, check traffic conditions, catch-up on trends, etc. I love the personal media revolution. But, there is something missing. I have gotten so used to having what I want when I want it, that I am frustrated that I can't consume original content on the Web from my couch, the kitchen, the bedroom, etc., without the use of a laptop, or Blackberry. I want a more relaxing and high-fidelity experience. I want Internet programming on my TV. But, don't confuse this with IPTV. The key to my frustration is both the content and how I experience that content. I am not looking for only professionally created entertainment or news content from a traditional media source or two. I also want to consume original Web content and content that can only be found on the Web, all from my couch.

I realized allof this a month ago when I came home and sat on the couch. I flipped through hundreds of stations on DirecTV and found nothing to watch. I realized then that what I really wanted to watch was video from the Kelsey Group's most recent conference, and SMX. The only way I could do this was to open my laptop, or go in my office. According to a recent article from the Ny Times, executives think I am an anomale. Sony and Sharp Electronics execs said it was too soon.

"'I don’t think that consumers are yet ready to access all content on the Internet on the TV,' said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president for marketing at the Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America," according to the article.

I have to disagree. It is too soon for most people to set up a Media Center that connects to the TV, or to spend thousands of dollars on A/V installs. I am of the opinion, the ability to surf on a TV needs to be as simple as turning on the TV for mass adoption to take place.

It looks like someone may have figured that out. According to NYT, Gordon Campbell started a company called Personal Web Systems which will soon sell a simple device that enables surfing via a TV. I could not agree more with Mr. Campbell's assessment that TV manufacturers are not being genuine when they say consumers do not want full Internet access.

"This generation doesn’t want their hands tied behind their backs. They want the same experience as with a PC, and widgets don’t do that.”

According to NYT, "Campbell ... believes that consumers will eventually buy set-top boxes that get the Internet, forcing TV makers to embed chips themselves or lose the business."
“The ultimate test will be when the technology hits the market and consumers decide,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to be on the widget side when that happens.”

Widgets are narrowcasting of limited channels of content via the TV. That is the approach most TV manufacturers have embarked upon. Of course, that walled garden will come tumbling down as soon as the user/consumer figures out the content can be obtained through other means. I can tell you that 'widgets' will not satiate my desire to consume Internet content via the TV.

As Campbell says, “I wouldn’t want to be on the widget side when that happens.”