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What is Boxee?Edit

Think of Boxee as an aggregator for all of the entertainment information on your computer as well as on the internet. I encourage you to watch the 1:55 clip below titled, 'quick intro to boxee.'

Here is a detailed description from the Boxee website: Boxee is a free, open-source software platform that integrates personal media with Internet media along with social networking. boxee’s social networking component allows users to share information about what they’re listening to or watching with other Boxee users or friends on social networks like twitter, facebook, etc. Boxee is designed for your TV and use of a remote control. To get Boxee on your TV you’ll need to first connect your computer to the TV screen. You will most likely need an DVI/VGA to HDMI cable (but it depends on the specific input/output on your computer and TV).[1]


The current version of Boxee runs on Intel-based Macs, Apple TV and Linux machines (it works particularly easily on Ubuntu distributions). A Windows was recently made available, according to a Boxee spokesman. Connect any of those boxes to your TV and you’ve got a pretty powerful entertainment aggregator. Boxee will play the music and movies you have on your own hard drive. But it will also play content from services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Shoutcast, Last.fm, Flickr, Picasa, CNN and lots more. It’ll pull in video podcasts and if you want a podcast Boxee doesn’t offer, you simply add the URL of the feed.[4] thumb|300px|right|quick intro to boxee

Social Networking Edit

Boxee also has social networking capabilities built into the software.

An icon-based interface tell users' friends what they've been watching, and vice versa. Recommendations can be posted and shared in an icon-based interface. In addition to photos, movies and music, Boxee also displays Internet-based content from YouTube, CNN and other sources. The Boxee interface is similar to Apple's Front Row, but with social networking added in. Boxee is, in a sense, an "Entertainment OS." Since Boxee is Open Source, plug-ins could be created to support things like chat within application, HD Tuners, DVR's and more. [1]

You can share what you’re watching with other Boxee users and they can share their viewing habits – and recommendations – with you. As more and more video and music becomes freely available on the Web, those kinds of recommendations from people you trust could become a great way to find the best of the avalanche of content.[4 ]

XBMC Media Center (formerly Xbox Media Center) Technology Edit

Boxee uses XBMC technology as the application framework for its Media Center Platform and Graphical User Interface.

XBMC Media Center (formerly named XBox Media Center) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages. While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater. Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox. [2]

Open-Source TechnologyEdit

Because the platform is open source, anyone will be able to write an application for it, so the eventual list of functions will only be limited by the imagination of Boxee’s community.5


Because its software is open source and can be modified and improved by any user or developer, Boxee can theoretically move quickly to add new video or music sites to its service, or to tailor itself to other electronic devices. For instance, three months ago, Web developers in North Carolina created a special program to allow people to put Boxee on their Apple TV boxes. The program has since been downloaded more than 100,000 times, but primarily by people with some level of technical sophistication and patience. It must be reinstalled on the device every time Apple updates its software. 6

Potential Issues & Future of TelevisionEdit

Boxee has had its share of problems with content providers, most specifically Hulu. Currently Boxee is free and their business model is one that aims to help users discover new content. Their goal is to eventually help content owners/creators charge for their product through Boxee. They have already created deals with CNN, Netflix, and Comedy Central.  There was a recent deal between Boxee and Major League Baseball which allows Boxee users to stream MLB games live over the internet if they subscribe to MLB.TV.

"Boxee announced a deal with Major League Baseball to integrate the league's online game broadcasts into its software, giving Boxee users an easy, elegant way to tune in online games from distant ballparks on their living-room TVs." [10]

Mark Cuban vs Avner Ronen debateEdit

Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Chairman of HDNet has had a spirited debate with Avner Ronen, CEO of Boxee over the future of Internet TV/entertainment. Boxee believes the future of TV will stream over the internet and will offer consumers 'a-la carte' access to programming. Mark Cuban believes that the 'a-la carte' approach wouldn't survive and there isn't enough bandwith to support multiple devices all watching streaming TV in one househould.  I encourage you to read both sides of the debate, Mark Cuban's post "Why do Internet People think Content People are Stupid?" [14] and the Boxee side at 'A lively debate with Mark Cuban' [13]

Hulu Challenges Edit

Early on, Mr Ronan says, Boxee decided not to sign deals directly with broadcasters or TV producers. "There are enough people licensing content on the internet - whether it's Amazon or Netflix or Hulu," he explains. Boxee provides access to 150 services such as these - with or without their consent. And that is where Boxee has run into its first big clash with rights owners. For months, Boxee has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with Hulu, the popular US on-demand site that is jointly owned by the broadcasters NBC, Fox and ABC. Hulu blocks Boxee viewers, then Boxee's developers try to find a way around the block. "What Boxee represents in a way is a loss of control over their business model," says Mr Ronen, because it could compete with their subscription packages. But changing the way pay-TV services are bundled is exactly what gives Boxee potential, says Toby Coppel, former head of Europe at Yahoo and a Boxee user. [9]

Future of Television Edit

Boxee represents a true challenge to future of cable companies. As computers, iPods, and smartphones become further integrated with entertainment capabilities, consumers spend less time in front of their televisions. Furthermore as media companies begin to post their shows online, consumers may begin to trend away from watching television via the tradtional cable box and become more accostomed to online television. During the announcement of the new Boxee Box, Avner Ronen said "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." [12]

If television and media channels are smart they will learn from the mistakes of the music industry and to some extent the news industry. This topic was mentioned in an interview with Boxee CEO Avner Ronan. "There is a real business challenge for them," Ronen said, referring to the TV industry. Yet despite the blow-up with Hulu (which Boxee seems to have circumvented; one of the virtual channels on Boxee is "Hulu feeds," a collection of streams from Hulu), Ronen said, the company has a "very healthy relationships" with media companies. "They see where the future is headed," as well as how poorly the music and newspaper industries managed the transition to digital. "They don't want to make the same mistakes where they can avoid them." [10]

Competition and Business ModelEdit

Boxee's indirect competition comes from traditional cable or satellite providers like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, DishNetwork or DirecTV. From a direct competition standpoint, Avner Ronan, Boxee CEO said "he didn’t think of startups like ZillionTV or even Netflix-backed Roku as Boxee’s main competition: “Our biggest competitors are Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), because they have both the hardware and the software,” he said. “AppleTV may not have been a huge success so far, but I wouldn’t write them off; Microsoft has Xbox and Windows Media Center. So we need to be like the Firefox of the space and attract users that are looking for a more open, aggressive type of streaming media solution.” [11]

Business Model Edit

The business model for Boxee has yet to be finalized. There are a couple of different options available for Boxee to bring in revenue as mentioned by Avner Ronan, Boxee CEO:"As for making money, Ronen said the team is working on developing payment options so that content providers can charge per-viewing or subscription-based fees for their shows; the goal will always be to let consumers access Boxee for free—but get a rev-share if they’re paying for the content. Ronen also said lead-generation deals could be an option; if Boxee drives new viewers to an online series, for example, the content company could offer an ad revenue share." [11]

Boxee announced on November 12, 2009 that they will license their software technology with a company to produce a 'Boxee Box'. The goal is to have "Boxee connected to every device in the living room" [12] By licensing their software, Boxee will have some flow of revenue, however advertising with in the application is still a viable option.

Legal Issues [8] Edit

Patents [8]Edit

For most popular video and audio codecs, Boxee includes native support through free and open source software libraries, such as LAME, libmpeg2, and libavcodec (from the FFmpeg project). Since these source code libraries are released under free and open source licenses they are legally redistributable. However, some of these compression methods algorithms, such as the popular MP3 format, are in many countries protected by software patents. Absent a license, this could possibly make it illegal in certain countries to distribute compiled versions of Boxee which includes support for these formats.

Web Scraping [8]Edit

Boxee has built-in web scraping to automatically download metadata information and online artwork from sites like IMDb, freedb, and Allmusic. There could be some legal issues associated with web scraping, as it is against the Terms of Use policy of many websites, however the enforceability of these terms is unclear.

Privacy [8]

As part of the social networking functionality, information about what content users watch is transmitted to Boxee.tv Inc's servers. Concerns have arisen over the use of this information, as Boxee is being created by a for-profit company and possible revenue-generation models for media center applications include the sale of user activity data to advertisers and other interested parties. Boxee's privacy policydoes not directly address this issue.[7]

Other [8]

Boxee uses libdvdcss to support playback of DVD-Video movies encrypted using the CSS (Content Scramble System) encryption. The distribution of executable versions of Boxee containing this code could possibly violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S. and the Copyright Directive in European Union member countries which have incorporated it into national law. However, this has never been tested in court for open source projects.

How to keep up to date with all things BoxeeEdit

Boxee in the NewsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. What is Boxee? http://www.boxee.tv/homepage/whatis.php (09-22-2009)
  2. macnn: Boxee marries media player to social networking http://www.macnn.com/articles/08/06/30/front.row.meets.twitter/
  3. XBMC.org http://xbmc.org/about/
  4. Albro, Edward. (2009-09-09)http://www.pcworld.com/article/156759/boxee_open_source_connected_tv.html   PC World
  5. Albrecht, Chris (2008-06-10) http://newteevee.com/2008/06/10/scoop-boxee-to-go-alpha-on-monday/
  6. Stone, Brad (2009-01-16)http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/17/technology/internet/17video.html?_r=1&em
  7. http://www.chillingeffects.org/linking/faq.cgi#QID596
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BOXEE#Legality
  9. Bradshaw, Tim. Boxee hints at Connected Future. September 1, 2009. Financial Times
  10. Healey, Jon. Boxee Snags Major League Baseball. June 23, 2009. LA Times http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/06/boxee-catches-major-league-baseball.html
  11. Kee, Tameka. Boxee adds $6 Million Second Round. www.Paidcontent.org. August 12, 2009.  http://paidcontent.org/article/419-boxee-adds-6-million-second-round-aims-to-take-on-microsoft-apple-in-li/
  12. a Boxee Box is coming! http://blog.boxee.tv/2009/11/12/a-boxee-box-is-coming/
  13. A lively debate with Mark Cuban http://blog.boxee.tv/2009/03/21/a-lively-debate-with-mark-cuban/
  14. Why do Internet People think Content People are Stupid? http://blogmaverick.com/2009/03/20/why-do-internet-people-think-content-people-are-stupid/

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