Bridging The Gap Between Broadband Video And The Television
from the all-akimbo dept
Lots of stories this morning about Akimbo, the new company that is working on a PVR style device that aims to bridge the gap between broadband content and the television. Right now, of course, there are things like TiVo, which will store live television broadcasts. There are also online sites where you can stream or download video content. What Akimbo is trying to do is create a TiVo-like device that downloads video content from the internet for later viewing on your television. It’s an interesting concept, though it faces a variety of hurdles. First, the pricing is fairly similar to TiVo, with a $200 box and a $10/subscription fee. People are going to have to see real value before they’re willing to double their set-top box fees (the company admits they want to build their technology into other offerings, though). This leads to the second concern: content. Is there enough content online (or can they convince enough publishers to release content online) to make this enticing? They’re initially focusing on niche content providers, mainly because those are the only people likely to agree at this point. They’re also locking up the content with Windows DRM technology – which may upset some users, but probably isn’t a huge issue (other than convincing bigger content providers that their content is safe – which it probably isn’t). There’s also the issue of time. It sounds like you’ll have to set up your preferences and then wait some time (overnight?) until the content is downloaded. While this may work in some instances, it might not appeal to the “I want it now” crowd. Finally, you have the bandwidth issue. With companies like Comcast putting soft or hidden caps on their “unlimited” bandwidth, and others (like SBC) starting up tiered service levels with limited bandwidth, how will they deal with people having their Akimbo boxes downloading all this content all the time? One interesting aspect, though, is that they intend to have future versions of the device allow people to upload their own content to the system. While this also raises the bandwidth issue (and many providers have pretty narrow upstream pipes), it opens up many more possibilities and focuses more on using the internet as a way for people to connect and create their own content, rather than simply being consumers of broadcast content. If anything, this sounds like a feature of a future PVR system, and Akimbo may become more like TiVo – creating the market, but not leading it.