Boxee CAN (and will) Survive without Hulu
News broke last week from both Boxee and Hulu camps that effective immediately, Boxee was no longer allowed to utilize Hulu's offerings--arguably a large reason a lot of folks began using Boxee. Hulu integration on Boxee was way ahead of anyone else and allowed you to watch any and all Hulu TV shows streamed from your remote control. Some have argued that this announcement could mean the demise of Boxee as a whole. I would argue, they are wrong. :-)
I have several blog posts covering the various ins and outs of Boxee, and what makes it special. There are thousands of posts on their forums from loyal users and developers. While Hulu may have brought a lot of people to Boxee, it simply offers so much more that even without it those users would stay true. The on-line and social integration features with your media paired with the variety of platforms it can be used on, and the amazingly good price of FREE all make it hard arguments against Boxee.
But nobody is good enough to rest on their laurels and Boxee is no exception--nor have they given any inclination that they are happy with where they are. And that is what will allow them to continue to thrive. Here are my checklists for things that will really put Boxee over the top:
- Blu-ray player:
I understand the many, many limitations with integrating Blu-ray support especially on a Mac or Linux environment. But in Windows, a lot of people are very dependent on being able to play their HD movies. Arcsoft is a relative newcomer to Media Center blu-ray playback but seems like they would be a perfect fit for the small and growing Boxee. Free would obviously not be possible given the licensing fees, but at least the ability to offer an integrated add-on for sale would appease the majority.
- Bring on More Big Channels:
Yes, it's sad Boxee had to get rid of Hulu which brought so much from so many channels into one interface. But as long as Boxee does not get discouraged, they can continue on their path. They already have individual portals for CBS, the WB and others. While of course it will be more work and less convenient to have an NBC, FOX, ABC, etc...people will love it and enjoy it. Boxee doesn't remove ads, so it's a win-win for all those companies trying to get fans to their websites anyways. So far it seems that CBS and the WB have not complained about the increase in traffic.
- Get creative with Video offerings:
I have two sites for you--Justin.tv and Ustream.tv--which if you haven't heard of before, hopefully this will motivate you to check them out. Sites like that are an example of video and television content streamed on-line like YouTube and would be a perfect fit for Boxee since the majority of viewers are ones that live without cable television (or maybe just for pay-per-view events)
- Ability to Search Channels for TV Shows
As I mentioned in my original review, even with Hulu integration, having so many channels is a blessing but also a curse if you cannot remember what channel your favorite shows are. As difficult as it would be, being able to type a show title and have it search all the available networks would be invaluable--in fact, at that point, you might wonder if you would even need to see the channels themselves--simply search, find and watch, how cool would that be? :-)
- Fix Torrent Downloads in Windows Version
Now this is a legally fuzzy section, so take this part with a grain of salt...but there are a plethora of "torrent" RSS feeds which can be used to find available shows, download and then watch immediately. Not as fast as streaming, but the quality is better as well, or so I've heard. With a functional RSS torrent download ability, that would give users another method of watching shows--and hopefully motivate the content providers to work with Boxee and still make their ad revenue instead of torrents which rarely have commercials.
Now, what I don't think Boxee should do is panic and begin thinking they need to go the way of Meedio and rush into integrating an actual television tuner and PVR software into their solution. If there's one thing the rapid success of Boxee should have signified is that people are more than happy to live without cableTV as long as they can get their shows. Add to that the complexity of all the standards, tuners, drivers etc, and it just wouldn't make sense nor pay dividends for anyone--consumers or the company.
Boxee definitely has the right path in mind for its software, and I believe they will continue to succeed even given this slight setback. They give consumers a product they need, at a wonderful price, and make it attractive and intelligent as well.
Keep on doing what you're doing Boxee!