A few months ago, I tried Boxee. It’s software that allows me to watch more Internet video via an otherwise limited device like AppleTV. It was a bit difficult to install (download, put on USB drive, reboot AppleTV), and it vanished when I accepted a new release on AppleTV.
I didn’t bother trying again, because it had two limitations- while it was nice to access Hulu and other content on my boob toob, the resolution was far below a VHS. In fact it truly looked like gritty video on my television set. Second, it was buggy. Boxee folks are constantly working on the technology, but it caused my AppleTV to stutter, and was a bit slow.
Of course now that I’ve read this AdAge article, I would invite and encourage everyone to download and use Boxee. The cable companies, fearing dissintermediation, are pressuring companies like Hulu to make Boxee not work. It reminds me of the “cat and mouse” chase between police speed detectors and the devices that alert to a speed trap. The police develop a better device, and the free market creates another way to for the technologically advanced to detect the traps.
Boxee got noticed by cable and broadcast networks, which pressured Hulu to start blocking it two weeks ago. Since then, it’s been a cat-and-mouse game as Boxee engineers devise work-arounds and Hulu engineers stop them. The issue is that Boxee made it a little too easy to watch web video on TV, which causes two problems: First, when users watch a show online, the networks earn a fraction of the ad revenue they earn when people watch on TV. Second, it’s likely Boxee might encourage people to just drop cable, depriving operators of subscription revenue.
I don’t like monopolies and I don’t like restrictions on innovation. Hail Boxee and here’s a note to cable… how about start earning your fees?