Coming soon to an iPhone or iPad near you: TV shows, movies and videos, streamed via Boxee. The video browser that took content from the small screens of computers to bigger TV screens is ready to come full circle.
New York-based Boxee is looking for a developer fluent in the Apple operating system, according to published reports Friday. Boxee is also hoping to get onto Google's Android-based mobile devices.
Seduced By iPad
Boxee calls itself the "first social media center," offering a free, open-source program compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux and Apple TV that connects computers to TVs via DVI or HDMI connections. In December, the company, headed by Avner Ronen, unveiled the Boxee Box, a cable-box-like device designed by D-Link that can either link to computers or access the Internet via Wi-Fi to put content directly on TVs. The device, expected to sell for under $200, is likely to ship at the end of June.
Ronen told the Los Angeles Times he had been working on developing more content partners, social media and a payment platform, but this month's release of Apple's iPad changed his focus to mobile apps. Boxee has already developed an app for Apple that lets the iPhone work as a remote control.
"Having the iPad in our hands bumped up that priority," Ronen told the Times. "We're going to try to get something very basic very quickly out there."
Andrew Kippen, Boxee's vice president of marketing, told us Friday that the company is in the "early stage" of developing an app and as yet has no agreement with Apple.
Full Content Experience?
"We are looking for someone to design the app and figure out what kind of functionality we want to add to it," said Kippen, who added that like the original software , the app will be free. "We're very bullish on the tablet form factor and over the next month or two we'll decide whether we want to bring content-navigation experience to the Boxee app on the iPad or if it will be more of a full-content experience."
One potential pitfall for Boxee is getting caught in the Apple-Adobe Systems battle over Flash, a standard video player that is banned from Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Kippen said one option for Boxee is transcode, which would automatically convert any video into a format the iPad can read. The company is working on deals with studios and other content providers.
Boxee has had a long-running feud with Hulu, the joint venture of NBC Universal, ABC and Fox Entertainment Group. Hulu blocked Boxee from accessing its site, with Boxee making adjustments to do an end run around the block. Hulu said it responded to the request of its content partners in blocking Boxee. Some observers said the companies were reluctant to encourage people to watch TV shows via the Internet rather than broadcast or cable, because TV advertising is far more lucrative than web ads.
Kippen said the dispute is past history. "We haven't heard from them in months," he said.