Boxee Founder Avner Ronen announced yesterday that Boxee has closed a $16.5M round of financing. The timing couldn’t have been any better as Boxee is trying to fend off competitors such as Google TV, Apple TV and Roku. While sales of Apple TV and Roku remained strong at the end of 2010, the Google TV box from Logitech failed at launch — there were plenty of misses like the awkward keyboard wasn’t backlit, a confusing user interface, and a slow search interface that frequently returned incomplete results. And on the software side, Google asked vendors to hold off rolling out displays with embedded Google TV. While Google will certainly return with a stronger offering, Boxee now has additional funds that they can use to get out ahead.
How can Boxee dominate the market?
Content is king and Boxee aims to bring all of your home media content together in one device. With Boxee, users can scan/access their music library from another computer, a feature that is missing from both Google TV and Roku. Ronen anticipates using the funds to grow their development team and introduce additional (paid) content on their device. According to the support forum, requests for Amazon Video Streaming integration have become extremely popular ever since the announcement of free movie and TV content streams for Amazon Prime members so I believe that Boxee may focus on supporting this in the next release. With the major networks blocking access to their free streams, Boxee is better served by focusing on integrating with partners that want to share content.
The Boxee team also plans to expand on the embedded software front. In addition to serving as an interface for an Iomega home media storage device, the Boxee software will soon be integrated into ViewSonic TV’s. This should solidify Boxee as a software solution that can complete with the Google who has partnered with Logitech and display vendor Samsung. Boxee will hopefully leverage their already active developer community to expand the availability of content (and functionality) on their offering.
This exciting news signals additional interest and trust in the future of interactive TV.