Tag Archives: boxee

Jan 05

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products, Smart TV, Stage Two

Smart TV is the Tech World’s Afghanistan

The Huffington Post has a great article that compares Smart TV to Afghanistan. Quoting from the piece:

Web-savvy tech companies have spent the last decade battling for command of the screens that dominate our lives, successfully capturing our attention on cellphones and computers. But the television screen has proven to be the Afghanistan of the technology realm — the unavoidable place that every great power has dreamt of conquering, only to become bogged-down in a long, costly, and ultimately fruitless battle.


Why has the living room proven such a quagmire for the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Google, enormously successful pioneers that have built empires and attracted millions with must-have offerings in smartphones, software and search? Can this sphere ever be conquered, or will it prove impenetrable, even to the same formidable marketing and engineering masters who have managed to convince us to turn their brand names into verbs and trade in our cell phones every two years?

The post then highlights some of the key challenges facing Smart TVs. The inability of the industry to successfully define and market Smart TV services, limited access to broadcast content (especially news and sports) and the passive nature of the living room are all considered in the article. This last point is especially salient; in order for new TVs to catch on, they must deliver new features as effortlessly as changing channels on the television. Again, quoting from the article:

In essence, the goliaths of technology have placed a high-stakes bet on their ability to seduce couch potatoes with greater interactivity, yet it remains debatable whether viewers really covet a more active experience on a device known popularly as the boob tube.

The entire article is worth a read as it smartly examines a variety of forces shaping the future of Smart TVs. As major entertainment and technology companies continue to battle for the largest screen in the home, advances in Smart Televisions will shape how individuals locate and interact with media in the coming years.

Dec 02

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Smart TV, Social Media, Stage Two

Social Remote Control Ties Twitter to TV

We found this great Fast Company Design article that profiles a twitter powered remote control from KDDI R&D Labs. Quoting from the piece:

KDDI’s basic insight — put apps on the remote, not the TV screen itself — zigs where Boxee, Roku, and everyone else has zagged.

But the real smarts in KDDI’s social remote comes from its Twitter integration. Using hashtags, profile data, and tweet content, the app mines Twitter for intel about what’s on, what’s worth watching, and who’s doing the watching. You can slice and dice this realtime feedback in a variety of ways to zero in on something you like. Then (according to KDDI) you just tap it and poof: the content cues up on your TV. As shown below, the app also offers voting and rating features so that you can feed the hivemind yourself.

The video below shows more of the action.

Expect more second screen innovation as digital living rooms continue to evolve.

Sep 17

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, UI/UX

The 10 Essentials Of Making a Great Boxee Box App

Yesterday Stage Two blogged about Google TV and how developers can best deliver quality interactive content to the living room. Today we continue that theme by examining potential best practices for developing a killer Boxee Box by D-Link App (full disclosure: Stage Two has a professional relationship with Boxee/D-Link). Our goal is to help developers deliver exceptional content that performs flawlessly in the home theater setting, and when it comes to the Boxee Box, the rules are slightly different than they are for the Boxee app on a PC.  This post is to help developers see some of the different nuances involved as the Boxee Box has a remote (no mouse), no PC involve, and will likely be used in a different manner than the computer-based version. Google has a great list of guidelines for smarTV developers and we think all “ten foot experience” developers should embrace their suggestions as a jumping off point.  We’re adding beyond that, hope these help.

10 – Avoid Input Fields At All Costs

The Boxee Box comes with a clever remote that includes a full QWERTY keyboard on its reverse. That is awesome. Scratch that, it’s super-awesome. Hopefully you only use it when you should – specifically when you are searching for something, logging into something, or some other highly meaningful purpose. Content for the interactive television is not the same as content for a computer or mobile device. Smart couch surfing should feel like analogue couch surfing- not in the content delivered, but in the manner in which it is accessed. If your App asks the user to “type” every 2 minutes, you might as well be thinking of a computer experience, not a TV one.

9 – Create Consistent Remote Interaction

Even though Boxee’s glorious 2-sided remote is…well, glorious, do not build your App in such a way that the user is asked to use the front, then the back, then the front again, now flip it just once more…ok, now watch your TV. We got tired just writing that, so don’t ask a user to do it.  Design interactions that are conscientious of how the user will interact, and make it as congruous as possible with the way they are holding that remote.

8 – There is no Back Button

Boxee’s remote operates (primarily) via directional arrows, a menu key and a play/pause button. From the start, developers should anticipate that users will use the left arrow as the back button (like TiVo and other similar devices work). Users may also expect that “menu” will bring them back to the main screen of your App, which is not correct. Instead, the menu key will bring up the Boxee quick interchange menu. Make sure that the navigation of your App is intuitive and well defined.

7 – Make it Move!

As we wrote in our post yesterday, motion is critical to the TV App experience. Making backgrounds that shimmy and shake will engage and retain users. Playstation 3 has an elegant and dynamic menu background that keeps users entertained.

6 – Redirect for Account Creation

If your app requires a login, give the user two options: either they can sign up via the laptop next to them or they can enter their account information right on-screen. Too many current Boxee apps direct the user to a web address to create an account, which works fine when Boxee is installed on your laptop, but much less so in the living room. While we assume that the average Boxee user has other internet enabled devices near them, it still is a frustration to HAVE to go grab your laptop or iPad to start using an app on your television.  Don’t believe us?  We’ll summarize with this way of crystalizing the point, ask yourself this question: “do you believe you will get more or less signups by telling the user to drop their remote, pick up their laptop, enter in some info, confirm via email, go back to the website, then return to their TV experience?”  Yeah, we agree.

5 – Include a “Sit Back and Watch” Mode

Remember that this is TV we’re talking about so computer rules do not apply. Even if you App is text heavy and social, you should consider including some kind of a “chill out and watch” mode. Tumblr has incorporated a passive consumption mode for both pictures and music with great results. Redux (another Stage Two client, for the record – but it’s super-relevant so we included it here) is another good example of proper execution in this vein.

4 – Your Boxee Box App CANNOT Be “Your Website Only Way Bigger”

Just because it’s a 50 screen doesn’t mean people are sitting a foot away from it. Furthermore, websites are meant for a specific type of “lean forward” interaction, and even the Boxee remote in the living room doesn’t change that. Design your features accordingly.  Yep, we said this yesterday too, but it’s just so important to consider that we brought it back around again.

3 – Keep Your Menus Visible When Needed!

Don’t hide menus until the user is watching content, period. Many current Boxee apps have a slick interface similar to Boxee’s that hides the menu in a tray that can be reached by mousing over a portion of the screen. But wait a sec, there’s no mouse to move around anymore!

For a specific suggestion: The user should be able to use the left arrow on the remote to pull the last nav menu back up, but not lose what they are currently watching. When you expose a menu, make sure the content the user was watching is still active and easily visible/reachable.  You can riff off this theme as much as you want, but if your users can’t figure out how to control the features, they’ll soon leave it behind.

2 – Your App Needs a Social Life

When a user “loves” something on Boxee, the Boxee universe knows about it. But what about Facebook and Twitter? The Boxee Box experience is designed to include social features from the start.  Developers should give users an easy way to share media preferences across multiple channels in real time. If your app already has a social aspect like comments or user ratings, display this information on-screen during playback (just be sure to give users the ability to turn that element off easily).

The Justin.tv app does a good job of showing users that 300 other people are currently watching exactly what they are. It reinforces this new thing called “social tv” and begs for user interaction. If you let users know that they are not watching in a vacuum, they are more likely to comment, share, and participate.

1 – HD is Pretty

The Boxee Box supports HD, so if your app does as well, make sure you push that HARD. As Mr. Jobs recently said, “users don’t care about amateur hour” (that is, right before announcing YouTube would appear in their box). Most homes that have a Boxee Box will hook it up to a nice, big HD TV. If you have HD content, don’t hide it, promote it as the best way to watch what you’ve got.

We at Stage Two are extremely excited about watching the TV app ecosystem flourish in 2011.  Boxee already has a huge developer base, and we hope they all consider how to make their apps just as engaging on the Boxee Box as they have on Macs and PCs around the world.  Let’s face it, there’s a tiny tiny handful of folks like us who have ever considered true ten-foot experiences, so this is virgin territory for a lot of people.  But for those of us who have the experience, we think it’s important to share, and help see our industry grow and flourish.

Dec 03

Posted by David

Posted in Clients

Client News: Clicker on Boxee

Clicker_logoWe have some excellent news to share from two friends of Stage Two Consulting, Clicker.com and Boxee. Clicker today has launched their new Boxee app. This app, as you might expect, lets you search for and watch great Internet television content on your actual TV.  Boxee is the 10 foot experience for Clicker.

boxee-logoThe Clicker blog post has all the details. Next week, Clicker CEO and founder Jim Lanzone will be joining the Boxee guys at their Beta launch in Brooklyn, New York to get up on stage and talk about the new app.  If  you’re gonna be in the neighborhood, you should RSVP and check out the news (and the free food.)

Boxee and Clicker are both exciting products – both are consumer-facing, sexy, and offer compelling TV-related technology.  The news pickup has been pretty good.  We’ll update the coverage below as it comes in.


Aug 12

Posted by andrew

Posted in Clients

Client News: Boxee momentum drives series B funding

Coming out of CES this year, Boxee gained a lot of momentum. During the first half of the year we targeted mainstream business press to raise Boxee’s profile for content partners. Articles in the New York Times, The Washington Post, All Things D, and more drove interest from hardware makers, content partners, and even more press. That coverage subsequently also generated attention from the investment community even though Boxee had just raised their Series A in November of last year…

From that interest, we’re happy to announce Boxee has raised their next round of funding. Here’s the news from their blog:

We are happy to announce that Boxee closed a $6M round of financing led by Boston-based General Catalyst with participation by prior investors Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures. Neil Sequeira from General Catalyst will join our board.

We closed our Series A late last year, but given the momentum and opportunities we’ve seen over the past few months, we thought it made sense to bring in a new partner and additional funds.

General Catalyst brings more than just money to the table. We wanted a partner to help us as we strengthen our relationships with big media and cable companies. As we learned (the hard way), it is a complicated world.. Neil and General Catalyst as a firm have years of experience, deep understanding, and extensive network in these industries, and we are looking forward to working together with them.

Going forward we plan to focus on:

* Improving the product – We are working on the Beta release (due later this fall), but also looking beyond Beta and into the roadmap of 2010. The idea is to have a healthy mix of development driven by user feedback (which is the essence of the upcoming Beta) and innovation that comes from within Boxee.
* Adding more content – We believe Boxee can be a great partner for independent content producers as well as big media companies. We will try to bring more TV Shows, Web Shows and Movies from ad-based, subscription-based and a la carte type services.
* Attracting more developers – While we have an App Store on Boxee, we know it needs some love. For Developers, we know it needs to be easier to develop and monetize apps. For users, we’re going to make it easier to find apps on Boxee. Last but not least we’re going to extend the APIs so everyone can do more with Boxee.
* Bringing Boxee into devices – Boxee today is mostly serving a tech-savvy audience – those who feel comfortable connecting a computer to a TV. To make Boxee more accessible for a mainstream consumer it’s important for us to get Boxee embedded into connected TVs and Blu-Ray players, game consoles and set-top boxes. We’re already talking to device makers to ensure Boxee works on a variety of platforms for 2010.

We are really excited about the future and glad to have General Catalyst and Neil as part of the team.

Here’s the coverage so far:
NYTimes: Bits
TechCrunch/Washington Post
New York Observer
The Deal
Read Write Web
Digital Media Wire
Light Reading
Broadband TV News

Nov 18

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Clients

Client News: boxee.tv raises money to expand operations

I first met Avner and the boxee team back in ‘07, when a friend introduced me to them as a “digital living room” play. With over 10 years building those kinds of products for Sling Media and Mediabolic, I was almost immediately uninterested. When I actually got to see a demo of the boxee.tv platform in the Spring of 2008, it only took a few moments for me to realize how good their products were, and how big the opportunity would be. Today they announced they raised $4 million from two of the top VCs I know of (USV/Fred Wilson and Spark/Bijan Sabet), in one of the harshest investment climates we’ve seen in years. Yup, they’re on to something.

Per the boxee blog:

our goals for 2009:

  • grow out of our comfortable closed-alpha cocoon and launch a kick-ass beta
  • build even more functionality and content into boxee while making it easier to navigate
  • listen to user requests, ideas and frustrations (and improve the product accordingly)
  • work with team-xbmc, developers and partners to extend boxee beyond the confines of our limited resources
  • finish the year with ~ 1,000,000 users

Sounds like some good goals! We’re excited to be a part of the boxee team, and if you’ll be at CES 2009 please come by to see them in the fab booth they were given for winning the I-Stage competition! Guess we’re not the only ones who like em…

Coverage so far:

Oct 21

Posted by andrew

Posted in Clients, Events

Client News: boxee wins CEA i-Stage Competition

Congratulations to Avner, Dave, Gidon, Tom and the rest of team boxee for winning CEA’s i-Stage event yesterday afternoon. boxee’s unique social media center was voted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and judges Ryan Block (gdgt), Molly Wood (Cnet), Jeff Pulver (VOIP/Online TV pioneer), and Kevin Kelly (Wired) as America’s Next Top Gadget (err, software?).

boxee beat out hundreds of other companies to become one of 14 finalists, then went on to win the competition yesterday and will receive a turnkey exhibit booth at CES along with a check for $50,000. They’ve got an amazing team of engineers that continue to push the limits of what media center software should do – making it easy for anyone to organize, enjoy, and explore their media in new ways, including socially!.

See the official announcement from the CEA here, footage from CNET, a video interview from local Vegas news here, and make sure to follow boxee’s blog as there are many more innovations to come.

Sep 16

Posted by andrew

Posted in Clients, Events, Gadgets

Client News: boxee.tv selected as CES I-Stage finalist

We’d like to congratulate our favorite social media center company, boxee.tv, for being selected as one of 15 finalists for the CES 2009 I-Stage eventI-Stage is a new event for CES, which they’ve labeled with “Think you’ve got America’s next top gadget? Prove it. “  The event is being judged by Kevin Kelly (Wired), Ryan Block (Engadget/gdgt), Jeff Pulver, and Molly Wood.

The 15 finalists will unveil their products before a live audience on Monday, October 20, at CEA’s 2008 Industry Forum, scheduled October 19-22, 2008, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
Good luck Avner and the rest of Team Boxee!