Why I'd Shill for Boxee at CES

January 2, 2009   

Avner Ronen, CEO and Founder of Boxee, just posted an interesting offer on the Boxee Blog:

we have two locations at CES this year, and 4 of us are going to the show. but we could use some help and thought it may be best to have two users come with us to the show and help us tell people about boxee.

we will:

  • take care of your flight + hotel (Jan 7th - 10th) + food/drinks during the show
  • equip you with boxee shirts + schwag

you will:

  • spend half the day with us giving boxee demos, telling people how boxee rocks, etc.
  • spend the other half walking the show and checking out all the cool gadgets

Not a bad deal, eh?

I'd love to go to CES and I love Boxee. So, here's exactly why I'd shill for Boxee at CES (starting with a brief video tour of the system): I truly believe that Boxee is the future of media in your living room.

"The future?" you ask. Sure, I know I said the AppleTV was the future of the living room before -- and I still believe it was the first, best way to consume user-generated and web-distributed content in a lean-back environment -- but for the following reasons, Boxee changes everything, and has the opporunity to become, as Fred Wilson describes it, the Mozilla "Firefox of media center software."

Lean Back (in your living room), Open (on anything), and Watch (what you want)

Boxee rocks because it's open source, cross platform, egoless, and in your living room.

Being cross platform is important because it puts the software in your living room to begin with; it's installed on my AppleTV, but could just as well be on anything else next or attached to your TV: a MacMini, an old Windows machine, a Linux box, or even a Linux embedded display.

Meanwhile, Boxee is an open source application (based on another open source project, called XBMC). Being open source means any developer can jump in and build add-ons for their Boxee installation and create a distribution of the software with their modifications (eventually there will be a marketplace for the individual modules, I imagine). This matters because the Boxee team has limited resources -- as does any single entity -- but if a niche group wants to modify Boxee to fit their needs, they can; and then they can share those modifications with you, in your living room.

Anyway, with a model like that -- providing the platform and getting out of the way -- it's no wonder they were able to put Hulu (hence Fox, CBS, movie studios, etc), CNN, CBS, Comedy Central, and a dozen other top distributers (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of independent podcasts) on their system in record time.

Simply put, Boxee gives me the content I like where I like it; and, because of their open model, they'll be able to deliver that satisfaction going forward.

Social Discovery = The New Channel Surfing

Lastly, I believe Boxee ushers in a new era of channel surfing.

Since the invention of the remote control, we'd sit our our couches, remote in hand, pressing the up button and down button rapidly to find new content.

Boxee Recommended

With Boxee, social discovery is the new channel surfing, because you can build out your social network and see what interesting content your friend may have recently been viewing. Instead of seeing "what's on" that your cable package provides, you can see "what's on" that your friends are viewing. With recomendations, you can even see what your friends think you should see, all from your remote control.

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