A new contender in the Internet television fight will debut this week. Boxee is a privately held startup that is entering an increasingly crowded field seeking the Holy Grail of Internet television. Apple and Google recently introduced new products and services in the space, competing with established players like Roku and TiVo.
Another major competitor, Netflix, makes its movie service available through multiple systems, including Roku, the Microsoft Xbox, the PS3 from Sony (SNE) and some Blu-ray DVD players.
The Boxee Box is a dedicated set-top appliance that is powered by an Intel processor and manufactured by D-Link. It will be available through Amazon.com and at Best Buy for $199.
The Boxee service allows users to view photos, apps, files, TV shows and movies off the Internet on their TV sets. A software version of its product already streams video via its website, which currently claims 1.4 million users.
Boxee, which got $10 million in funding from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures, is entering a potentially lucrative new market. However, it remains unknown how consumers will sort through the many available options that compete with cable and satellite television services.
Whether such Internet TV services resonate with consumers remains to be seen. “A lot of work and experimentation needs to be done,” Robert Wiesenthal, Sony’s group executive of corporate development, said at a recent event organized by PaidContent Entertainment.
“It’s very early in trying to understand this and how business models will change,” Mario Queiroz, Google’s vice president of product management, told Investors.com.
At the Streaming Media West conference earlier this month in Los Angeles, Rishi Chandra, Google TV’s lead product manager, said Internet TV will alter the TV viewing landscape more dramatically than did cable. “We’ll be going from 300 channels to millions of channels,” he said.