Tech giant Samsung acquired the promising video startup Boxee for a reported $30 million earlier this year. Will the fledgling young company disappear for good now it has been swallowed by Samsung’s mammoth TV division?
Living in a Box
Six years ago Boxee was born. Marketed as a “social media center,” the little black box allowed users to play most audio and video files and access streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Although it never made waves in the way a device like the iPhone has, it still attracted a hardcore fan base who remained fiercely loyal to the “box” vision. Yet like a lot of new companies, the techies behind the box struggled for funds, which is where the South Korean colossus Samsung stepped in.
A Mutually Rewarding Relationship?
On their website, Boxee has announced, “Joining Samsung means we will be able to work on products that marry the best hardware and software in the TV space, products that will be used by tens of millions of people and will help to shape the future of TV. We are excited about the next chapter for our team.” Yet if you’re a fan who hopes to see more of their beloved Cloud DVR boxes, you should prepare to be disappointed. It’s doubtful that Samsung has bought the young start-up to develop its existing services. Instead, it’s probably planning to exploit Boxee’s existing product to enhance its own smart TV vision.
How Smart Is Samsung?
It’s no secret that Samsung’s dream of turning their smart TVs into a must-have household item has yet to come to fruition. Its Internet-connected sets with its Smart Hub interface and “S Recommendation” throw your average TV viewer into a whirlwind of confusion. Also, there’s the prohibitive cost, which is beyond the reach of your average family. Yet by integrating Boxee’s software with their own, Samsung might believe that it can overcome the problems which have plagued its smart TVs from the beginning.
In the grand scheme of things, Boxee could possibly end up as the sacrificial lamb to Samsung’s misguided commitment to a smart TV revolution. Recent research from the NPD Group reveals that 40% of U.S. households who own smart TVs do not even have them connected to the Internet. The same research indicates that tablets are more likely to replace traditional televisions than smart TV is. If it turns out that the vast majority of people want their TVs to behave like TVs and not like smartphone/tablet hybrids, then Samsung’s takeover might just leave all those Boxee acquired talents and assets in a TV division which has unfortunately lost its way.
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