Daily Marauder


THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED by Martha

THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED

Guest Writer: Martha Rivera

A sold out crowd gathered at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY last night for the unveiling of the Boxee beta as well as to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated Beta Box.

Launched in 2008, Boxee is software that aggregates media content from the web and your personal computer and streams it on your HD television. It searches web based content providers like YouTube, Netflix, MySpaceTV, Blip.TV, CBS.com, Revision3, flickr, and Pandora, among others and brings the content straight to your living room television. Missing still from the list of content providers is the online video site, Hulu. In addition to streaming web content, it also pulls media content from your own personal computer including your ITunes, personal videos and pictures. Boxee is an open source platform allowing users to create their own apps. To date, there are over 300.

“Our biggest challenge is distribution,” said Boxee CEO Avner Ronen.   The hurdle is getting cable affiliates and major content providers, like Hulu on board. At the core of the problem is fear of piracy and concern that the advertising is stripped from the content. However, Boxee pulls online content as is, which includes the advertising that is attached to it. Boxee also has the ability to track a host of analytics far outweighing television’s usage reporting. Ronen is hoping media companies and cable providers will become comfortable once they understand usage.

Four weeks ahead of its wide release at CES, Ronen introduced the beta software and Boxee Box, as well as announced the launch of 3 new apps: the hipster soft-core site Suicide Girls, the online gamer e-zine The Escapist and Clicker, TV guide, entertainment search engine and DVR all rolled into one.


Boxee Beta

Overall, Boxee Beta looks great and is much more user-friendly. The UI has been streamlined with a new layout. The menu, previously hidden, is now front and center. The home screen has been redesigned to feature the main menu, featured content, personal queue and the friend feed.

My favorite social networking feature is the ability to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Any media that your friends or followers share with you will automatically populate on your queue. Too busy to watch videos at work? Don’t have the ability to watch video because you don’t have an office or are on the go? Another feature allows a viewer to send media assets to your queue so you can watch when you get home.

The search function has also been streamlined. Now users can search for movies, TV shows as well as local and online content at once. Boxee Beta populates all content from your computer as well as from any web source that works with Boxee. Of note, you can now mark content as “watched.” Better yet, the search function lets you omit “watched” content from the results.

Boxee focused specifically on TV shows in the Beta redesign. TV shows are now organized by season and episode. You can follow your favorite TV shows, and like Hulu, it will automatically populate your queue with new episodes.

Another new feature is the Global Menu. This menu is essentially the shortcuts screen. It provides quick access to predetermined shortcuts, favorite apps, history, and settings.

Other features include allowing users to interact with the apps without having to download them, a now playing button on every screen allowing easier navigation back to the player, a new Last.fm and flickr interface as well as a main background that changes based on the time of day.

As of this writing, 85% of Boxee’s 700,000 users use a Mac. However, Boxee Beta has not forgotten about its Windows’ friends. It will now run on Direct X, which will mean a better experience for the PC user.

Boxee Box by D-Link

The night also included the highly anticipated unveiling of the Boxee Box. Boxee partnered with D-Link, better known as the makers of wireless routers, to create the hardware. Astro Studios, the cutting edge designers behind products like the X-Box 360 and Nike, designed the sleek cube. This small black submerged cube will sit on top of the many boxes taking up space near your TV. The guys at Boxee hope that eventually you’ll do away with all those boxes and just use the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Box will retail at $200 and will be available for distribution sometime in 2Q10.

Why Boxee?

I’m a three-screen user. I watch TV, while surfing on my laptop, with my phone not far away. Having used the Alpha, I don’t know if I can give up my computer that easily. As I was navigating the web content on Boxee, I found my multi-tasking self wanting to toggle out of the screen to search the web while the video played. Because I was unfamiliar with the navigation, or more like because I’m a specific type of navigator, all of a sudden I felt trapped. According to Andrew Kippen, VP of Marketing, “Boxee is about fighting tradition. It’s streamlining your viewing experience by consolidating it all into one. Boxee is the tip of the iceberg for what’s possible.”

The Boxee Beta version seems much more straightforward. It’s easy-to-use features will allow users to not feel so (excuse the pun) boxed in. Then again, in this case, that’s what the creators of Boxee want you to do. Engage with the content within the box.

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TECHNOLOGY by Marauder
November 9, 2009, 11:37 AM
Filed under: TECHNOLOGY | Tags: , , , , , , ,

TECHNOLOGY

Theatres equipped with RealD’s 3D cinema technology brought in over half of the total box office or nearly $16 million for “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” shot in Disney Digital 3D, according to the company. The movie, which stars Jim Carrey as Scrooge, earned an estimated $31 million during its opening weekend. (Cynopsis 11/9)

Jim Carey Christmas Carol


In a bid to sell living room electronics and spur buzz for “Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs,” Sony Corp. is offering the movie for free to U.S. buyers of its Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players starting Monday. (AP11/8)


The studios have put the screws to Redbox and Netflix in order to get them to take new releases at a later date. Redbox has sued many of the big studios but Netflix is taking a different tack. During the company’s most recent earnings call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged the impact that cheap rentals were having on DVD sales and said that “if we can agree on low enough pricing for delayed rental, it could potentially increase profits for everyone.” (Paidcontent11/6)

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TECHNOLOGY by Marauder

TECHNOLOGY

Roku, the company whose set-top box originally made it possible to stream Netflix content on TVs, has come out with two new video players. The Roku SD supports standard-definition content of 480i and costs about $80; the Roku HD-XR supports 702p video and retails for $130. Digital Trends(10/27)

Roky

By 2013, there could be as many as 46 million homes worldwide with 3-D-capable TV sets, according to GigaOM Pro analyst Alfred Poor, who added that the rate of uptake would be greatly affected by cost considerations. Sony and Panasonic, both of whom have said they will launch 3-D HDTVs next year, are likely to lead the way. Yahoo!/The Associated Press (10/26

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GAMING by Marauder

GAMING

Sony said is partnering with Netflix to provide access to the online movie rental company’s library through Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console. PS3 users in the United States who are also Netflix subscribers will be able to instantly stream movies from the Netflix catalog at no extra cost. (Reuters10/26)

Well it’s about time. I mean, it’s sort of like arriving at the XBox party at the end when everyone has already paired off and only the somewhat sketchy people are left. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration but you know you hear me on this… Here’s the BIG difference between PS3 and XBox, PS3 users don’t have to pay an additional extra dime for Netflix content whereas XBox users must have the Gold level membership which costs $50/year.

PS3


So much for the first generation of big Facebook/MySpace social application startups. Slideand RockYouboth got huge valuations in venture rounds. But a new generation of application developers has taken center stage and are racking up big revenues and their own eye popping valuations: Zynga, Playfish and Playdom. (Techcrunch10/26)

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ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Marauder
October 23, 2009, 3:53 PM
Filed under: ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: , , , , , , ,

ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA

For those who like renting movies, Hollywood may soon have a message: Prepare to wait. In an effort to push consumers toward buying more movies, some major film studios are considering a new policy that would block DVDs from being offered for rental until several weeks after going on sale. (LA Times 10/23)

This is ridiculous. So now, the thought process is that consumers will simply accept that they can no longer get Netflix movies in the same time frame and go out to buy one instead of renting? Come on. This will force advanced users to the bitorrents to illegally download. There is a difference in strategy between renting and buying. If I don’t want to permanently own something, this coercion won’t change anything. It will really just piss me off. And…prepare for angry comments on Netflix.

Netflix


Hulu, the free online video site where television shows and movies can be watched in their entirety, will start charging fees at some point, one of its owners said. (AP10/22)

MySpace launched its own music video site a week before the planned launch of Vevo. Build playlists, search for and browse curated, popular and recently added embeddable ad supported music videos. The Artist Dashboard interface provides access to charts, graphs, and snapshots of MySpace Music data for all global artists, documenting fan geography, song plays, profile views, friend count, and profile visitors. An integration with iLike also provides top-line data from iLike partner networks. (Cynopsis 10/23)

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TECHNOLOGY by Marauder
October 23, 2009, 3:51 PM
Filed under: TECHNOLOGY | Tags: , , , , , , ,

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft announced another down quarter this morning. Revenues in the September quarter were down 14 percent to $12.92 billion, and net profits declined even further to $3.57 billion, or $0.40 a share. The consensus estimate was $0.32, so Wall Street is happy and the shares are rallying (up 10 percent in early-morning trading). (Techcrunch10/23)

Microsoft

With expanded distribution options and a big jump in its subscriber count, Netflix reported a third-quarter profit of $30.1 million, a 48% increase over the year-earlier period. Netflix now has 11.1 million subscribers, the company said, and its streaming service now is available via TiVo DVRs, Xbox Live and Web-capable Blu-ray players. Bloomberg (10/22) , PaidContent.org(10/22)

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MOBILE MOVIES ON THE GO: MSPOT by Marauder
October 20, 2009, 7:52 PM
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , , , , , , ,

MOBILE MOVIES ON THE GO: MSPOT

mspot

Just launched about a month ago now, mSpot allows consumers the opportunity to watch movies on 30 phones domestically. Interested in taking in Zach and Miri Make a Porno? Now, you can introduce your fellow train mates to comedy nudity as well. Incidentally speaking, this was the movie playing when mSpot was demoed to me. Currently, over 350 movies are available on the service and a few TV shows as well.

The business model:

I had the opportunity to sit down with Darren Tsui , CEO of mSpot, today at Digital Hollywood LA. The service in available both in a rental and monthly subscription model ($4.99/movie and $9.99/month for 4 movies). When asked why the service wasn’t available in an unlimited monthly Netflix type of model, Tsui responded that this model wasn’t compatible with the way studios make money on their content.

I questioned viewers’ desire to watch full length movies on a cell phone. Tsui responded that this was more of a challenge two years ago but not at this point. Of the audience using the service, consumers tend to rent rather than subscribing via the monthly model.

The competion:

The other players in this space include iTunes, and possibly if rumors are true and you know they are, the Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix apps to come. mSpot attempts to differentiate itself from iTunes with a streaming content model. “People don’t plan when they want to watch something,” Tsui tells me. In essence, iTunes requires some forethought to download the content in advance whereas mSpot is available on the go. That said, clearly iTunes has its advantages in its ability to allow viewers to watch on planes, subways, and anywhere else where cell service isn’t available…like the panel rooms at Digital Hollywood.

To come:

Currently the service is only available as a mobile website but applications are sure to come.

Marauder Weigh-In:

I continue to wonder how many people will truly watch full length movies on any type of mobile service…only because I would never do such a thing if offered the option between my laptop and my phone. That said, I’m not a parent and I clearly see the advantages that this platform offers the parental units.

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