Boxee, you have a lot going for you and I’m pulling for you to win the race for the living room (with new arrivals from Google and an Apple iTV on the horizon). I use you as a centerpiece of my home media setup after ditching my cable plan. My family and myself have fully embraced the whole “TV over internet” model. But we need to have a talk.
The most positive thing that you have going for you is that are an open platform. Developers can write plugins for you, with the only restrictions being the developer’s own ability and dreams. This is a good thing, as it allows infinite development of your platform – and I believe this is where boxee should be focusing its time on: enticing talented developers and content producers to write apps for your interface.
With the latest release of Boxee you’ve added an internet “Movie Library” to your service. Note that movies have been available via the Boxee platform since the beginning via a Netflix app or if you have local media to add to your library. For the sake of argument, let’s say that a user doesn’t have a local movie library.
Imagine, if you will, a new user trying out Boxee. The TV selection is great – it lists “A” list television shows from Hulu and other sources around the internet. Let’s compare this to the Movies selection. Once you click over there, you quickly see “B” and “C” list movies from indie studios. There are a few exceptions thrown in, but in general the movies are ones that almost no one has an interest in watching. While I do not have anything against these movies and their talented directors, this is not what the average person is actually looking for or will watch much.
I would definitely recommend you be more selective about the movies you show to the average user. Why? This same problem is the one that has afflicted Joost from the beginning. Lots and lots of content, hardly anything worth watching. It essentially waters down the perceived quality of the app – and this is going to hurt Boxee in the long run.
Instead of showing your content partners’ movies by default, it would be much better to present users with a choice on first run. For example the choices would be something like:
- Local Movies
- Netflix for Movies (instead of in a separate app)
- Free Internet Movies
This gives the end user a choice to receive higher quality movies in the “Movies” area of Boxee – which is where most non-Boxee speaking people would go to see a movie. As it stands now, “A” list movies are hidden under an App, and this really off-putting to the neophyte Boxee user.
Finally, where are the premium for pay content apps? Your users are thirsting for an iTunes app for protected iTunes content and an Amazon Video on Demand app. A live TV app via MythTV would also be a winner. These are the lynchpins to taking over the living room from cable boxes. Millions of people are willing to pay for premium content if it is in a reliable, easy to use platform such as the one Boxee is striving to be.
I know you are working on your own payment system, but if you wait too long to even introduce these all important content sources, you’re going to miss the boat.
In summary, please don’t pull a Joost. Focus on keeping your platform open and accessible – with top notch easy to access content, and you will have yourself a winner.