I like the idea: the product known as Boxee made available on a standalone box. Fantastic concept! Only one tiny, itty, bitty problem — where’s the content? Okay, let me rephrase that. Where is the content that will compel me to buy a Boxee setup appliance? Here is the problem as I see it.
Boxee beat out Roku, in the idea of “channels” that developers could offer to the end user. Even in Boxee’s earliest days, they were spot on with this concept. But Roku was a setup box first, arguably the biggest piece of the puzzle. Finally, Boxee is joining Roku in this realm, despite being first with the idea of developer created content channels before Roku.
Now unlike Boxee, Roku has a de facto item that Boxee needs desperately: Amazon Video On-Demand. Both Boxee and Roku already offer Netflix. Both now offer oodles of no-name content channels no one actually watches. But last time I looked (today), Roku is alone in its offering for Amazon On-Demand. And let me tell ya, this is a family favorite in my household. If we didn’t rent the Blu-ray from Netflix yet, we’re watching the latest movies in HD via Amazon.
Speaking for myself, I think Boxee, as a product, is very cool. It’s open source, cross platform, and I appreciate the effort that has been put into the project. But the killer feature it had way back when was Hulu and ever since that became unavailable, well, it became a tougher sell for Boxee in this household.
Boxee received a raw deal with Hulu and I don’t blame the company in the slightest there at all. But I will make this point on the content front. Going with “unique content” and highly niche based stuff is a massive fail. It’s been attempted before and it failed badly. Entrance to the TV set is not with YouTube/Revision3 stuff. It’s makes for a nice addition, but you had better be ready to back it up with some mainstream content going beyond merely duplicating countless other options already offering much of the same thing.
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