Friday, January 8, 2010

Boxee Beta and Boxee Box Debut at CES 2010, NewTeeVee Live Interview with Avner Ronen

After much build up over the last few months, Boxee Beta and the Boxee Box made their official debut at CES 2010 this week. I spoke with Boxee CEO, Avner Ronen, at NewTeeVee Live 2009 who was there to announce the upcoming release of Boxee beta and the Boxee Box. Boxee made NewTeeVee's Next Big Thing List in 2009 of promising new players in the online video space and Avner discussed the continued maturation of their platform and the online video space. The popular free OTT "social" media center platform celebrated the milestone release of their newest Boxee Beta software version with a preview of it on December 7, 2009, and the much anticipated Boxee Box was unveiled at CES 2010 this past week.

The Boxee Box embeds the cross-platform open source software in the hardware box and joins the growing ranks of OTT solutions that bring internet video into the living room. Boxee is based on the xbmc open-source project and has been in alpha since early 2007, receiving $6M in Series A funding in November 2008 and $4 Series B funding in August 2009.

Criticism has been raised, on how Boxee is going to make money with their agnostic business model, but right now Boxee is more focused on improving the user experience. Boxee's 2009 revenue goal was $0 dollars, and Avner joked, that they made that stretch goal.

He said,
"2010 for us is not be about revenues or improving the business model or validating the business model, it's going to still be about improving product, getting distribution onto more CE devices and getting content onto the platform while we improve the user experience."
Avner noted though, that for Boxee to be successful, content owners need to be successful through models that they can monetize their content, and Boxee will be working on ways to build value for their partners in 2010. The much public dispute with Hulu last year ended with Hulu blocking Boxee's access to their public RSS feeds, but just this week they announced partnerships with, and gaming network IGN.
"I think TV everywhere is definitely exciting because I think it's going to be one of those things that are going to push more and more content online - and the numbers are that less than 10% of cable conent is online and about 50% of broadcast is online, and only 2% of video viewed is online - and those are all numbers we should see growing."
The early release in 2010 of Boxee's beta software and first hardware device is both an exciting and disruptive development for both the company, the user community and the online video industry.

On the Boxee blog, Avner noted,
"Over the next few years there will be a great change in the way we consume entertainment on our TV. The Internet is (finally) coming to the TV and with it will come a whole new world of content, applications and innovations... Our goal is to be on every Connected device in the living room."

Read more on the Boxee Blog