Apple TV, Steve Jobs’ digital media device, went on the market in March 2007. But sales have been lackluster and, in an Oct. 21 earnings call, Mr. Jobs said “the whole category is still a hobby right now. I don’t think anybody has succeeded at it and actually the experimentation has slowed down. A lot of the early companies that were trying things have faded away, so I’d have to say that given the economic conditions, given the venture capital outlooks and stuff, I continue to believe it will be a hobby in 2009.” But Mr. Jobs is a clever guy. He’s probably hard at working trying to figure out how to make Apple TV, or a different version of it, work as well as the iPod. But for Apple TV to really catch on, Jobs and Co. have to open up options for users, so they can watch movies or listen to music on programs outside of the Apple core.
You can connect your Xbox 360 to a Windows XP or Vista-based PC and watch DVDs, record TV shows, stream music and videos and play picture slideshows on your TV. Microsoft has partnered with Netflix, Magnolia Pictures, MGM, Starz, Miramax and others to create an online video marketplace, but they haven’t integrated Hulu or YouTube for easy access.
XBMC, a free, open-source software program that works with Windows, Mac OSX or an Xbox, is a lot like Boxee, and for good reason: XBMC developers helped inspire and guide Avner Ronen and his team. Mr. Ronen explained on the Boxee blog that his partner, Tom Sella, installed XBMC into his media center in 2004 and it blew him away. In 2007, they reached out to XBMC’s team for help. Mr. Ronen explained: “We met with Pike and Gamester in Copenhagen in the summer of 2007. told them our story. that we are fans and users of xbmc. that we believe in the ideals, philosophy and ethics of open-source. that we’d like to work with them and bring the xbmc platform to the masses. they said something like ‘sure, as long as you guys stick to GPL [note: short for General Public License], contribute code along the way, and stick to GPL’ and that was it. we started working with team-xbmc developers from US, Australia, Sweden, UK, New Zealand, Israel. you should have seen Tom’s proud face when he first got an email from jmarshall. it’s an honor to work with these guys, and an amazing experience.”
It’s the revolutionary little box that changed Madison Avenue and TV-watching forever, but will it get buried by the competition? Of course, you can record your choice of shows, watch Netflix’s streaming service and order a Domino’s pizza with TiVo. But you can also connect your TiVo DVR to your home network, which allows the device to access personal music and photo files on your PC or Mac.
Cable DVR providers:
They’re not all that fancy and you need special instructions to make it happen, but some DVRs can connect to the web. The process tends to be complicated and not very user friendly.
Sony has the BRAVIA Internet Video Link module. Sharp integrated their Aquos Net service with their newest TVs, which allows viewers to connect their TV to an Ethernet jack and download widgets to get Nasdaq stock quotes, local weather information, high-definition images, traffic information from Traffic.com and cartoons. Panasonic has been working with Google to provide internet-ready TVs. It’s all happening, but the software is still closed-source. No Hulu for you!
Netflix is marketing a device that allows their customers to play their streaming videos online, with no extra charge to their normal subscription to the mail service…Yawn!