Earlier today it was widely reported that Samsung had acquired Boxee after Boxee had failed to secure an additional round of financing. Several sources stated the purchase price was no more than the $30 million or so VCs had put into the company. Samsung will use whatever they can scavenge off the bones of Boxee and the creativity of the staff that remains to pump up their streaming services for connected TVs and other CE devices.
From my first introduction to the Boxee product in 2008, I admit that I just didn’t get it. Roku and others were already making a mark for themselves with streaming ancillary STBs and the market seemed to be on a trajectory that included dwindling margins and commodity pricing. But Boxee supposedly had a hook: your friends could let you know what they were watching and recommend shows to you. Likewise, all of your friends would know what you were watching. Ok, but aside from the early adopters and Facebook fanatics (no there weren’t a billion users back then), who was really clamoring for someone to please, please tell them what to watch?
In the meantime, the Social TV phenomenon has passed the early adopter phase and headed toward profitability through advertising use cases.
Boxee did manage to produce video-streaming applications for phones and tablets using Android and iOS. However, to make streaming profitable, you need content. And to get the top line content that viewers want you need the cooperation and licenses from the big studio players. According to published articles Boxee evidently did not fully grasp the consequences of not getting along with the big boys of Hollywood and those big ole mean cable guys. Even the latest Boxee deal with WalMart to sell its streaming boxes was not enough to pull it through. Increased positioning at WalMart couldn’t hurt Samsung.
Boxee should be applauded for staking a claim and pushing the industry forward. And, Samsung should be applauded for keeping the people who created the value Samsung recognized.
Keep Pushing Forward