We met with Boxee which was demonstrating its first set-top box, developed by D-Link and based on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip. This is a powerful platform allowing full HD capability. The box will not include an integrated HDD in order to keep the price below $200, but supports USB drive attachments. It will ship in 1H10 in the US and Canada. Boxee let slip to us that they also expect it to be available “shortly after” in Europe. Boxee currently has 750,000 users through its PC-based platform. This device is certain to give a boost to those numbers and looks like a compelling new entry into the connected TV market.
Meanwhile, Yahoo continues to make progress with its connected TV offer. In spite of our scepticism over the widget strategy, based on our own user research
, Yahoo expects to have shipped between 3 and 5 million TVs globally by the end of Q110. 60% of sales have been in Europe and the remainder in the US. The company’s target is to have shipped in between 10 and 12 million devices by 2011. Like other connected TV companies their goal is to develop a large scale platform from which monetisation of app stores, advertising and other opportunities can be realised. As things stand today Yahoo appears to be fairly well positioned, but it will come under threat from many alternatives over the next few months, and TV manufacturers will be wary of becoming too dependent on a single partner.
One competitor could be Sonic Solutions’ Roxio/CinemaNow platform, which is being repositioned as a white label service for retailers and device manufacturers. Indeed, as we were meeting Sonic was in discussion with one of the major US retailers. It makes sense that retailers would be interested in selling connected TV services in addition to the devices on which they make small margins. We can expect to see a great deal of activity in this space in the US and Europe over the coming year as the connected TV landgrab continues.
Client Reading: Consumer Imperatives for Digital TV Media Browsers