Watching widgets, Boxee take off

I have been sorting through my notes and excess marketing literature from CES 2009 in Las Vegas earlier this month, and I found a couple more things I'd like to highlight related to the integration of Internet and TV.

The first one is about the TV-based widget, an interesting development that IPTV service providers need to watch closely. Samsung was showing a new TV model at the show that incorporated the Yahoo! Widget Channel and widgets from a variety of content providers. Samsung had announced before the show that it will be working the Widget Channel application platform into its new HDTVs, and since then, it has become clear that several more TV manufacturers will do the same.

Some telcos and other TV service providers have expressed an interest in having content widgets as part of their TV offerings as well, but the acceptance of the Widget Channel by TV makers shows how an experienced, still crafty Internet company is moving more quickly to take advantage of a new application trend. It also shows that many content companies are happy to get widgets to the TV any way they can, not necessarily waiting for an endorsement from a cable TV or telco TV player.

Another interesting demonstration at the show was from Boxee, a company I had never heard of, but was alerted to by a CES attendee who I met on the way into the Las Vegas Convention Center one morning. Boxee, which was actually on display over at the Sands Expo Convention Center, has open source software that creates a content library by converting all of your media folders and packaging them with other related Internet content to add further dimensions. It boasts of being able to work with just about any file format, and also can draw content from a variety of streaming services, photo-sharing sites and other Internet destinations. There are also social media aspects allowing you to find out what your friends are watching, and then access the same content.

The free software seemed to primarily be for people who like to watch media on PCs or laptops, though it could be watched on a TV linked to a PC. It was not clear if or when Boxee would be available separately on TVs or through other kinds of set-top box devices, but the company's blog has since said that Boxee was approached by device makers wanting to integrate it with other platforms.

I don't know if there is a way for telco TV service providers and others to work with Boxee or include it as part of their own services, but it is clear that Boxee is another way for end users to get consolidated access to a broadening variety of media content, so service providers should hope that some of those device makers who approached Boxee at CES 2009 also are their own partners.


For more:
- FierceOnlineVideo has more on widgets
- The San Francisco Chronicle covers Yahoo!
- Boxee's blog wonders about other boxes

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