Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

 
mikebdoss
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:31 pm

kc8pql wrote:
britomart wrote:

I could be wrong, so please correct me. I'm not a true "tech" guy. I'm a writer by trade with a tech "nerd" hobby. But this is how I see it.

Personally, I think you've hit it exactly. Excellent post.


I second that. My thoughts exactly.
 
-LD
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:29 pm

britomart wrote:
My rationale is that all the other streaming devices use proprietary, non-opensource code.

Boxee is completely open source. Roku is not.

Will the average consumer even know about firmware? And, if they do, will they know how to check the vendor's website for updates, download the ROM, put it on a flash drive, and go through the motions on their device to update the firmware?


My el-cheapo blu-ray from Insignia notifies me automatically if there is an update, downloads it, and flashes the update. But I agree such devices do it rarely. But that's not true of Apple TV or Boxee, which update often and automatically.

The biggest consumers of technology are those are those who have no interest or time to understand the details of technology.


Agreed, which is why I think Apple has a distinct advantage. They are the best at making it easy, foolproof, and consistent.

But the average consumer of tech products is either ignorant as to how to update these things or just doesn't care.


This is such an odd argument because it really doesn't apply to the biggest competitors.

They want to follow the directions in the box, hook it up, and have it work. That's it.


Yup. Apple TV makes this easy as well. Two cables, 1 power, 1 HDMI. Log in and you're off and running. No linking or jumping back to your PC to put in some code on some website.

I read on the forums and in the SDK that the code running the Roku is completely GPL opensource. So anybody with the knowledge can get the code and create whatever they want to run on the Roku. This beats out Apple TV, Boxee, WD Live, and, of course, internet TVs and Blu-ray players. Those are all propriety code.


Boxee is open source. Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store. Their tools aren't "open source" but they are completely free.

So I see Roku as being future proof because of its wonderful strategy to allow the user to create content with the SDK.


So you spend many paragraphs telling us most people don't care about such geeky things like SDKs, then state that's the reason the Roku is the best. Guess what? Grandma doesn't care if Roku has an SDK or not.

that can bypass any safeguards used by frightened, draconian providers.


That's working out so well in the wild west that is the Android market.....

Whereas the other devices will be at the mercy of the business provider--meaning, they can't create content or "hack" the kernel


A provider could create a web app independent of Apple's app store and the user could use AirPlay to stream to Apple TV, for example. It's completely open using open standards, which in your view should trump Roku. And Boxee, for the third time, is open source. Anyone can create a plugin for it if they choose. Since the entire project is open source, not just the SDK, that should also trump Roku, right?

I could be wrong, so please correct me. I'm not a true "tech" guy. I'm a writer by trade with a tech "nerd" hobby. But this is how I see it.


Writers do research, right? ;)
 
robertm
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:46 pm

I just hope the future of streaming players is an improvement over the now. I will grant you that I have ZERO patience right now. I have put in 38 hours over the last 3 days. All I want to do is sit back and watch some mindless entertainment and, of course, it is buggy and now it is rebuffering.

I load the netflix channel. Of course it is no longer on the last thing I played. I struggle to remember the last time that worked right. I find my Stargate hit select and the tv stares at me. 15 seconds later it is on the title to the right of Stargate. I move it back and press select. In a few more seconds it loads and suddenly I am looking at Spartacus. Back up to the queue and now there are two Stargates. I select the one that I am not on and it finally loads it but of course since I didn't sit far enough into the credits it is on the episode I finished last night. Granted they are all minor things but I am in no mood to be aggravated tonight.

So I get to my episode and press select. 15 seconds in it rebuffers. Oh right. Around 9pm on a Sunday night. The most unreliable 30ish of the week. Figures this is when I would get done working.

I shouldn't be ranting, I am blowing this way out of proportion. I don't care. All I wanted to do is sit in my chair and stream a few episodes of Stargate without annoyance.

There are times this feels cutting edge and others where the experience feels like I am using an 8-track player when everyone else has CDs.

I guess I will see what I have recorded on my DVR...
 
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gonzotek
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:51 pm

-LD wrote:
britomart wrote:
My rationale is that all the other streaming devices use proprietary, non-opensource code.

Boxee is completely open source. Roku is not.

Will the average consumer even know about firmware? And, if they do, will they know how to check the vendor's website for updates, download the ROM, put it on a flash drive, and go through the motions on their device to update the firmware?


My el-cheapo blu-ray from Insignia notifies me automatically if there is an update, downloads it, and flashes the update. But I agree such devices do it rarely. But that's not true of Apple TV or Boxee, which update often and automatically.

The biggest consumers of technology are those are those who have no interest or time to understand the details of technology.


Agreed, which is why I think Apple has a distinct advantage. They are the best at making it easy, foolproof, and consistent.

But the average consumer of tech products is either ignorant as to how to update these things or just doesn't care.


This is such an odd argument because it really doesn't apply to the biggest competitors.

They want to follow the directions in the box, hook it up, and have it work. That's it.


Yup. Apple TV makes this easy as well. Two cables, 1 power, 1 HDMI. Log in and you're off and running. No linking or jumping back to your PC to put in some code on some website.

I read on the forums and in the SDK that the code running the Roku is completely GPL opensource. So anybody with the knowledge can get the code and create whatever they want to run on the Roku. This beats out Apple TV, Boxee, WD Live, and, of course, internet TVs and Blu-ray players. Those are all propriety code.


Boxee is open source. Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store. Their tools aren't "open source" but they are completely free.

So I see Roku as being future proof because of its wonderful strategy to allow the user to create content with the SDK.


So you spend many paragraphs telling us most people don't care about such geeky things like SDKs, then state that's the reason the Roku is the best. Guess what? Grandma doesn't care if Roku has an SDK or not.

that can bypass any safeguards used by frightened, draconian providers.


That's working out so well in the wild west that is the Android market.....

Whereas the other devices will be at the mercy of the business provider--meaning, they can't create content or "hack" the kernel


A provider could create a web app independent of Apple's app store and the user could use AirPlay to stream to Apple TV, for example. It's completely open using open standards, which in your view should trump Roku. And Boxee, for the third time, is open source. Anyone can create a plugin for it if they choose. Since the entire project is open source, not just the SDK, that should also trump Roku, right?

I could be wrong, so please correct me. I'm not a true "tech" guy. I'm a writer by trade with a tech "nerd" hobby. But this is how I see it.


Writers do research, right? ;)
Boxee is not fully open: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxee .
Apple charges a members' fee to put things into their app store, so even if you can build an iOS app with free tools, you can't distribute it: http://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/
Airplay requires licensing, at least it does if you're planning on bringing a product to market and want to advertise Airplay compatibility. I know it's been hacked. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20049830-1.html
Remoku.tv - A free web app for Roku Remote Control!
Want to control your Roku from nearly any phone, computer or tablet? Get started at http://help.remoku.tv
by Apps4TV - Applications for television and beyond: http://www.apps4tv.com
 
stratcat96
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:39 pm

I believe you can get the SDK for free along with a simulator which will work for testing more basic apps, but in order to actually be able to load your app onto an iOS device for testing and/or to submit you need to pay the $99. That plus it looks like you pretty much need to have an Intel-based Mac to do any developing..
 
-LD
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:36 pm

Boxee is not fully open, correct. But it is by far the "most" open of the options presented.

Also correct that it does cost to submit to the app store. But ad hoc is free. Personal use is free. The idea was what's open, right?

A web app most certainy can use AirPlay for free. Just like any iOS app if it uses the default media player (which a web app will).
 
mommom
Posts: 971
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:22 pm

''''Grandma doesn't care if Roku has an SDK or not.''''


Hey!! Some Grandmas do!!

Anyway its a lot simpler than these theories. If everything did automatic updates and worked correctly all the time,for a long up datable,upgradable period of time,manufacturers would sell a lot less products.

In Dec my DH brought home a PC from a friend at work who just bought his 77 year old dad a new one because it was so slow you could click on something and go get a cup of coffee before it loaded.He wanted the photos off of it.I took out the dial up card that had been added to it and re-enabled ethernet ,then downloaded CCleaner and ran it.Took the photos off ,then updated W XP from service pack 1 !!! to service pack 3 and all other updates .He gave it to me along with an old Gateway laptop for copying the photos.I gave it to my grandsons friend who had no computer. A few weeks back I found someone throwing away a compaq dualcore pc because it "would not start,it just beeps".He already bought a new one.Took it home and removed the bad stick of ram,it started but it was Vista Home Basic with a total of 512 mbs of ram before I took out the bad one.It now has 4 Gbs of Ram and runs Windows 7.

But that is what the manufacturers want.Most people just buy a new one.
 
britomart
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:46 pm

Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:25 pm

-LD wrote:
britomart wrote:
My rationale is that all the other streaming devices use proprietary, non-opensource code.

Boxee is completely open source. Roku is not.

Will the average consumer even know about firmware? And, if they do, will they know how to check the vendor's website for updates, download the ROM, put it on a flash drive, and go through the motions on their device to update the firmware?


My el-cheapo blu-ray from Insignia notifies me automatically if there is an update, downloads it, and flashes the update. But I agree such devices do it rarely. But that's not true of Apple TV or Boxee, which update often and automatically.

The biggest consumers of technology are those are those who have no interest or time to understand the details of technology.


Agreed, which is why I think Apple has a distinct advantage. They are the best at making it easy, foolproof, and consistent.

But the average consumer of tech products is either ignorant as to how to update these things or just doesn't care.


This is such an odd argument because it really doesn't apply to the biggest competitors.

They want to follow the directions in the box, hook it up, and have it work. That's it.


Yup. Apple TV makes this easy as well. Two cables, 1 power, 1 HDMI. Log in and you're off and running. No linking or jumping back to your PC to put in some code on some website.

I read on the forums and in the SDK that the code running the Roku is completely GPL opensource. So anybody with the knowledge can get the code and create whatever they want to run on the Roku. This beats out Apple TV, Boxee, WD Live, and, of course, internet TVs and Blu-ray players. Those are all propriety code.


Boxee is open source. Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store. Their tools aren't "open source" but they are completely free.

So I see Roku as being future proof because of its wonderful strategy to allow the user to create content with the SDK.


So you spend many paragraphs telling us most people don't care about such geeky things like SDKs, then state that's the reason the Roku is the best. Guess what? Grandma doesn't care if Roku has an SDK or not.

that can bypass any safeguards used by frightened, draconian providers.


That's working out so well in the wild west that is the Android market.....

Whereas the other devices will be at the mercy of the business provider--meaning, they can't create content or "hack" the kernel


A provider could create a web app independent of Apple's app store and the user could use AirPlay to stream to Apple TV, for example. It's completely open using open standards, which in your view should trump Roku. And Boxee, for the third time, is open source. Anyone can create a plugin for it if they choose. Since the entire project is open source, not just the SDK, that should also trump Roku, right?

I could be wrong, so please correct me. I'm not a true "tech" guy. I'm a writer by trade with a tech "nerd" hobby. But this is how I see it.


Writers do research, right? ;)

Well, yes, I did do my research. :D What I found after reading Roku specs (and having downloaded the SDK), Boxee specs, Apple specs, Blu-ray, internet TV, etc. specs as well as developer forums addressing all of these products, and including countless articles and reviews from CNet, ZDNet, PCWorld, Linux.com, reviews on major Big Box sites, blogs focusing on each product and blogs addressing the entire industry, skimming each product's Wiki page, following the sources from the Wiki, researching consumer trends, polls conducted by many firms concerning technology consumption, articles in PCWorld, Rolling Stone, and Wired about the rise of the technological culture and how the consumer will react, and many, many newsgroups. The information I found contradicts your criticism.

But if you'd like to argue with all of these authors and writers, feel free.

My el-cheapo blu-ray from Insignia notifies me automatically if there is an update, downloads it, and flashes the update. But I agree such devices do it rarely. But that's not true of Apple TV or Boxee, which update often and automatically.


Well, that was exactly my point. I never said Apple TV or Boxee wouldn't update. Just Blu-ray and integrated internet TVs.

Agreed, which is why I think Apple has a distinct advantage. They are the best at making it easy, foolproof, and consistent


And expensive and renowned for releasing a product before it is fully ready. iPhone 4? Not to mention that Apple releases a hyped product at a very high price, then, months later, releases an "updated" version of that product for an even higher price. I'm not an Apple critic or Person of Good Streaming Taste, but this seems to be their business strategy.

But the average consumer of tech products is either ignorant as to how to update these things or just doesn't care.


This is such an odd argument because it really doesn't apply to the biggest competitors.


Not odd. The average consumer of technology products does not focus on the specifics of a product, but focuses on the brand. There is very little research concerning the specs of a piece of technology (except Apple, which is complete brand consumerism; it's a lifestyle brand) and more of a focus on who made the product. Just watch advertisements. There's HP, Toshiba, Dell, Apple. That's pretty much it. Tack on an Intel sticker and the average consumer doesn't care about 2 core 1.8 ghz processor or an i7 6 core Sandybridge. Not to mention AMD processors.

Yup. Apple TV makes this easy as well. Two cables, 1 power, 1 HDMI. Log in and you're off and running. No linking or jumping back to your PC to put in some code on some website.


Point taken. Still, tied to Apple's architecture though. Roku could easily get rid of the jumping back and forth to the computer for linking.

Boxee is open source. Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store. Their tools aren't "open source" but they are completely free.


Not according to my research. "Boxee was originally a fork of the free and open source XBMC media center software which Boxee now uses as an application framework for its GUI and media player core platform, together with some custom and proprietary additions." http://gizmodo.com/#!5697736/boxee-review-good-at-one-thing-bad-at-everything-else

Boxee took a free, open-source software and wrapped propriety code and a GUI around it and sold the individual box for $200. It claims to provide Flash support and web support. Great things. But nobody wants to surf the web on their TV (WebTV ?). So, it's a $200 piece of equipment using software you can download for free to achieve the same results. Maybe marketing hype will keep it going. But really, Roku and Apple TV are far better suited for the things Boxee does at a much lower price.

Also, you *can* download the Boxee software to your PC/Mac and create a free streaming device out of your computer using video card output to your TV ( but still functioning under a forked version of XMBC integrated with proprietary code). But there is no remote control usage (you have to purchase Boxee's proprietary remote) and, in my analysis, most people just want to hook it up and have it work. They really won't go through the hassle of buying and installing a video card that outputs HD (unless their computer has an integrated one). It just adds onto the price. And the whole reason for personal streaming boxes is to untether yourself from your computer. WMC, XMBC, MythTV all provide the same services, but the user is tied to their computer.

WD Live is, well, WD Live. Basically a large hard drive with a media GUI wrapped around it. Its main purpose is to allow users to stream media in any format transferred from or on their computer to their TV. The GUI and software is closed-source. Based on discussions in the WD TV Live community, there's big discontent about no Netflix support, no Amazon VOD, no Hulu Plus (or Hulu at all), and Flingo is constantly breaking. I view WD TV Live as simply an intermediary between the computer and the TV.

There is no SDK for Apple TV and this has made many, many users extremely frustrated. For your prediction that "Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store but they are completely free", I completely agree. I do see Apple moving toward a App Store type of structure. BUT, remember the backlash against DRM and incompatible formats for mobile devices from the iTunes store? Not everyone has an iPod that will support m4a. Now, concerning video, there will be a different view of the compatibility and ability to keep the content. The two pay structure on iTunes for renting or owning is the same as the brick and mortar store foundation used for VHS and DVDs (before most went out of business).

If Apple follows the same plan it has on iTunes (which I predict it will), then there may be a consumer backlash against this pricing structure.

When the consumer is provided a choice between a $7.99 a month fee to stream a film or TV show from Netflix or a $7.99 monthly fee to watch new episodes from major networks on Hulu Plus and then presented with an Apple App for .99 only to allow the ability to rent an HD film for $9.99 or own it for $19.99, the consumer will gravitate to the lower price.

Although the Apple TV product may provide some kind of development kit for App development, there will be no access to the actual software of the Apple TV. The closest Apple TV comes to open source is the Bonjour service: "Bonjour, also known as zero-configuration networking, enables automatic discovery of computers, devices, and services on IP networks using industry standard IP protocols." http://developer.apple.com/opensource/.

Just some facts I found about the competing products.

So you spend many paragraphs telling us most people don't care about such geeky things like SDKs, then state that's the reason the Roku is the best. Guess what? Grandma doesn't care if Roku has an SDK or not.


You entirely missed the point. Yes, the general public (not just your Granny) doesn't give a fig about a SDK or the inner workings their technology. They just want their product to work.

The SDK is for those of us that KNOW how the product works and can improve it. In other words, because the general public doesn't really give a flower about how their product works--and only seems to care when it *doesn't* work--and because the entire globalized culture is voraciously adopting technology products, there needs to be a competitive edge amongst these products. As shown above, Apple TV, Boxee, and WD TV Live are hindered by their ability to have the community contribute to the product's content offering. Because Roku allows users to utilize the SDK and actually compile the kernel, this gives Roku an advantage over the others. The general public doesn't care about the SDK, but because of it, those who know how to use it to create new content can provide the general public with more options. Perhaps I didn't transition correctly or emphasize this point more.

That's working out so well in the wild west that is the Android market.....


This is a borderline non-sequitur. What does a software stack developed for mobile devices have to do with internet streaming devices like the Roku?

A better comparison would be the Android market and jailbreaking iPhones. Point taken on my poorly phrased topic on subversion and hacking, but there is no comparison to a mobile device and the Roku.

A provider could create a web app independent of Apple's app store and the user could use AirPlay to stream to Apple TV, for example. It's completely open using open standards, which in your view should trump Roku. And Boxee, for the third time, is open source. Anyone can create a plugin for it if they choose. Since the entire project is open source, not just the SDK, that should also trump Roku, right?


Already addressed. Yes, it could be done. No it's not open standard due to Apple's extremely strict rules for Apps. No, it wouldn't trump the Roku. I don't follow your logic. I didn't even indicate that. Boxee, as shown above, is not open source. XMBC is, but Boxee made it proprietary. Anyone can make a plugin for Boxee as they would for XMBC. Any guarantee that it would work with the underlying code of Boxee is suspect. Thus, again, does not trump Roku.

You seem to think Boxee is completely and fully open-source. Yes, it could be, if run on the computer and not the individual device sold by Boxee. And, you fail to acknowledge Boxee's manipulation of XMBC's code into a proprietary source that is not open. Also, if you are referring to Boxee on the computer, WMC, MythTV, and other PVR's do the same thing but better. This is an illogical comparison. In order to analyze Boxee and Roku, you must address the separate Boxee device. Which, as shown above, is not open source.

Writers do research, right? ;)


Yes. Yes we do. Want my sources? ;)
 
stratcat96
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Re: The future of streaming players

Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:59 pm

there is no streaming box out there that has the accessibility the Roku does. It doesn't force you to be locked to some ecosystem that you may or may not like so they themselves can be the only choice you have, and doesn't dangle functions in front of you to get you to buy more of their equipment. Boxee looked great on paper, the box though is still overpriced and is best enjoyed if you do local streaming on a large and varied scale. The WD (which I have) is a great local streamer, but only with a dabble of mostly mehhh internet streaming apps, it sits in its box collecting dust. None of the users of these boxes can enjoy what a Roku user can, because each and everyday a user can download Roku's SDK and give the whole user community *more*. Add to that the fact that Roku actively works on improving its software and keeping it as "simple stupid" as possible, there's no other box I would recommend to an average non-geek to use.

One thing is for sure, in order for Apple TV to "win" it's gonna have to get better. Alot better. When the sleeping giant of Apple wakes up and starts taking AppleTV seriously they'll open up an app store. It's not time yet, the content owners aren't ready yet. Once content owners see that streaming is more than a fad, that's when Apple will step in the game for real. When that happens, yes, they will win. Not necessarily because they'll have the best product, it's because they put the full weight of the marketing machine behind what they want. They'll have a slick looking and functioning product for sure, and being the "lifestyle brand" they've very cleverly shaped themselves into they'll own the streaming market just like they own the mobile phone and the mobile music market.
 
britomart
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:40 am

stratcat96 wrote:
there is no streaming box out there that has the accessibility the Roku does. It doesn't force you to be locked to some ecosystem that you may or may not like so they themselves can be the only choice you have, and doesn't dangle functions in front of you to get you to buy more of their equipment. Boxee looked great on paper, the box though is still overpriced and is best enjoyed if you do local streaming on a large and varied scale. The WD (which I have) is a great local streamer, but only with a dabble of mostly mehhh internet streaming apps, it sits in its box collecting dust. None of the users of these boxes can enjoy what a Roku user can, because each and everyday a user can download Roku's SDK and give the whole user community *more*. Add to that the fact that Roku actively works on improving its software and keeping it as "simple stupid" as possible, there's no other box I would recommend to an average non-geek to use.

One thing is for sure, in order for Apple TV to "win" it's gonna have to get better. Alot better. When the sleeping giant of Apple wakes up and starts taking AppleTV seriously they'll open up an app store. It's not time yet, the content owners aren't ready yet. Once content owners see that streaming is more than a fad, that's when Apple will step in the game for real. When that happens, yes, they will win. Not necessarily because they'll have the best product, it's because they put the full weight of the marketing machine behind what they want. They'll have a slick looking and functioning product for sure, and being the "lifestyle brand" they've very cleverly shaped themselves into they'll own the streaming market just like they own the mobile phone and the mobile music market.

I do have to agree with your statement that Apple will "win" the streaming market. The company has a behemoth of a marketing department and their consumer base is extremely loyal to the brand, not to mention Apple utilizes aesthetics as an unconscious means of showing "quality". Yeah, their products LOOK really good. And the human brain equates good looking products with quality.

But I believe, in the streaming market, Apple won't be as big a player as we think. For example, critics in the industry have found that products based on the Droid line are comparable and sometimes superior to the Apple products. It's really early for me and I have to take off for work soon so I can't track down all of my sources, but a cursory web search shows that, while Apple leads in aesthetics and "sexiness" in the mobile phone arena http://reviews.cnet.com/2722-6452_7-380.html, the Droid X market is starting to challenge the Apple monster.

The Digital music and video market is dominated by iTunes. During the Wild West days of digital downloads, though, Apple was extremely late to the party. I compare Roku and Apple to the days of Emusic and iTunes. During this time, iTunes had the same pricing structure it does today: .99 single track downloads in a proprietary format that only works on Apple's portable music player, the iPod, and could be played only in iTunes (unless the user went through the trouble of downloading Codec packs which, at the time, were highly bloated [still are] and unreliable). And the iPod is still extremely expensive in comparison to other portable music players.

In comparison, Emusic (at the time) offered a monthly pricing structure for an "all you can eat" type of service. The company provided the universal format MP3 which could be played on any portable music player as well as computer player. Emusic didn't feature the major artists iTunes had, but it had a massive amount of music from esteemed labels such as Subpop. I was a music critic for a major and highly acclaimed cultural magazine at the time. Emusic completely squashed iTunes in the digital music industry. Monthly fees for unlimited downloads, 320 kbs MP3s for audiophiles, a huge and growing selection of independent and renowned artists such as The Pixies, Modest Mouse, and Arcade Fire (before they hit it big), couldn't compare to Apple's .99 per track DRM'd .m4a standard. Of course, as time went on, Emusic became more popular, as did iTunes, and Emusic had to restructure its pricing plan and did away with the buffet. Today, though, Emusic offers major artists at 320 kbps or even FLAC for audiophiles, and provides monthly download "plans" that are far more cost effective than iTunes .99 structure (not to mention Apple *still* uses the DRM .m4a format). Add in the common and popular complaint that iTunes is an extreme memory hog and has massive bloatware, the consumer is moving away from iTunes and finding other services (I have a source for this but, as I said, gotta go soon).

Still, though, iTunes rules the market. The "average" consumer is not aware of all of the audio formats available and uses iTunes as his/her major player. Just click on "Buy" and there's your music even though, in comparison, the price and format are a rip off. And Apple rules the video market. No other service provides brand new movies and TV shows for personal use as iTunes does--although, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Movielink, Cinemanow, and Blockbuster have all entered the market (but, honestly, besides Amazon, who is really going to know about these services? Apple is familiar, due to marketing, and the "average" consumer is not going to seek out others due to the massive marketing of Apple.)

You can also add in P2P like bittorrent and Usenet, but really, only techie people are going to use bittorrent (confusing to configure at first and many bittorrent sites are either shutting down because of legal issues or are fake and distribute malware and viruses). Usenet is more reliable and safer, but even more confusing than bittorrent. And the consumer must pay a fee for Usenet. Add in the moral and ethical issues of P2P and they are absolutely not a contender.

BUT, what stymies iTunes and all the other video providers is that the video file purchased or rented is still confined to the computer. Apple has a nice way of streaming the file to the TV via Airplay. But Airplay is confusing for the average consumer to set up and configure. Another hurdle.

So, the answer for the video to TV issue is the streaming box like Roku and Apple TV.

I don't have the tech knowledge like a lot of users--only my own anecdotal experiences, my own research, user reviews, and personal discussions--but I *do* know the fickle taste of the consumer and how the brand functions in the constantly in flux technology market of modern hyper-capitalism. I'll specifically use the works of Jean Baudrillard, a theorist who focused mainly on consumerism in relation to signs and signifiers in a "hyper-real" consumer culture as an example.

I'm not going to get into his theories. It will take way too long. But, at its core, Baudriallard theorized that the product is determined by 4 conditional values of need:

1.) The functional value of an object; its instrumental purpose. A pen, for instance, writes; and a refrigerator cools.

2.) The exchange value of an object; its economic value. One pen may be worth three pencils; and one refrigerator may be worth the salary earned by three months of work.

3.) The symbolic value of an object; a value that a subject assigns to an object in relation to another subject. A pen might symbolize a student's school graduation gift or a commencement speaker's gift; or a diamond may be a symbol of publicly declared marital love.

4.) The sign value of an object; its value within a system of objects. A particular pen may, while having no added functional benefit, signify prestige relative to another pen; a diamond ring may have no function at all, but may suggest particular social values, such as taste or class.

In brief, the consumer initially determines his/her want for a product through need. He/she may want a new computer, or has found Cable/Satellite prices to be too high. He/she creates a need in his/herself for a product to replace or enhance what he/she already has.

This is where marketing steps in. The product then becomes viewed through the lens of value. Which product will provide the best quality at the cheapest price? The consumer wants the highest quality product at the lowest price. But, the consumer can only find this product through the lens of marketing. Most consumers do not research a product. They go by what is shown on TV, or in a magazine, or the newspaper, or even online. Value becomes manipulated.

So, the product then becomes a form of symbolic values: what does the product "mean" in regards to my need? Marketing provides this meaning. For example, Apple signifies the meaning of cutting-edge, aesthetically pleasing, hip and current, and perceived quality. Never mind that a lot of Apple product are extremely limited with no way to customize for the individual "need" and "meaning" that becomes attached to the consumer. Never mind that a lot of Apple products have many problems that require constant fixes and tweaking (kind of like Microsoft). The Apple name is attached to a certain "meaning" which the consumer internalizes.

And finally, the signified value of a product. That a certain product may not have any practical value--in fact, may be inferior to other products--but provides the "idea" of being meaningful and superior to other products. The customer feels and believes that he/she has purchased the best product at either his/her intended price or slight higher. Apple is the perfect example of this. The signified "value" of Apple products is artificially created to be more "meaningful" than other products on the market. For example, Emusic may have a better selection of music in a superior format at a lower price than iTunes, but iTunes is Apple. And Apple is hip, perceived as "easier" one-size fits all, provides better quality and portability (only if the consumer purchases an iPod as well [unless he/she knows how to break DRM and convert the format to a more universal one, creating a loss of quality]) and has a more pleasing image than Emusic. Apple bombards the public with ads creating this "meaning" and image. Emusic has no ads. No public "image" attached to it. So Apple becomes the signified value of the product: media.

This is how I view the streaming box wars. Roku may be superior to Apple (and certainly other boxes). But Apple has an immensely established cultural presence. The consumer will flock to Apple even though the product does not provide the same value as other boxes. Factor in the price and the services provided by Apple--plus adding in the "locked" OS with no ability to create 3rd party content, but the possibility of an App store (which, of course, will cost the consumer *more* for content already provided by the Roku), and Apple wins. Not because it's a better product, but because it's *perceived* as the better product.

We can compare technical specs all we want. But we'd be arguing in a vacuum. The "average" consumer doesn't give a flower about specs. They care about value, ease of use, and aesthetics. Apple so dominates the market with their established signifiers--even though the products are surpassed by many other competitors--that the consumer will buy Apple. Plain and simple.

If Roku wants to move beyond a small base of consumers who recognize its potential--or simply purchase the box because it's cheaper--the company flower well start establishing a "meaning" that the consumer can identify his/herself on and market the flower out of this little box.

I think Roku wins tech wise, but market wise it's going to lose to Apple. Just like Emusic lost to iTunes. But, Emusic is still around, so the Roku, I believe, will only continue to improve and be around for many years.
 
-LD
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:22 am

britomart wrote:
And expensive


How is a $99 Apple TV more expensive than a $99 Roku?

and renowned for releasing a product before it is fully ready. iPhone 4?

Huh? Apple never releases products before they are ready. When they announce it's fully baked and available for sale with all promised features. I'm not sure what your comment is about iPhone 4, the most popular smartphone on the planet. Or is this the BS antennagate nonsense? Guess what, it's not unique to iPhone 4 and is worse on some other models.

Not to mention that Apple releases a hyped product at a very high price, then, months later, releases an "updated" version of that product for an even higher price. I'm not an Apple critic or Person of Good Streaming Taste, but this seems to be their business strategy.


You just seem to be ignorant. Apple releases products on a fairly reliable cadence, especially iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Annually. If you don't want this year's model, wait until next year. And overpriced? Other companies are struggling to match Apple pricing in the iOS space. They simply can't and still provide the same quality.

Not odd. The average consumer of technology products does not focus on the specifics of a product, but focuses on the brand. There is very little research concerning the specs of a piece of technology (except Apple, which is complete brand consumerism; it's a lifestyle brand) and more of a focus on who made the product. Just watch advertisements. There's HP, Toshiba, Dell, Apple. That's pretty much it. Tack on an Intel sticker and the average consumer doesn't care about 2 core 1.8 ghz processor or an i7 6 core Sandybridge. Not to mention AMD processors.


Even more odd statements if this is a response to updates since we weren't talking specs. If you want to talk brands, Apple wins this hands down.

Point taken. Still, tied to Apple's architecture though. Roku could easily get rid of the jumping back and forth to the computer for linking.


You're still tied to Roku's architecture as well. You are relient on them to make updates, just like you would be with Apple or Boxee or whomever.

Boxee is open source. Apple TV in't an open platform currently, but I anticipate it will be much like the App store. Their tools aren't "open source" but they are completely free.


Not according to my research. "Boxee was originally a fork of the free and open source XBMC media center software which Boxee now uses as an application framework for its GUI and media player core platform, together with some custom and proprietary additions." http://gizmodo.com/#!5697736/boxee-review-good-at-one-thing-bad-at-everything-else[/quote]

Here's a link to the Boxee source. As covered above, it's mostly open source.
http://dl.boxee.tv/boxee-sources-0.9.23.15885.tar.bz2

But nobody wants to surf the web on their TV (WebTV ?).


Well, it's not surfing the web on your TV. Just watch the videos on their site.

but still functioning under a forked version of XMBC integrated with proprietary code).


Well, yes.

But there is no remote control usage


Wrong.

(you have to purchase Boxee's proprietary remote)


Wrong.

and, in my analysis, most people just want to hook it up and have it work.


True, consumers aren't going to be DIYers.

They really won't go through the hassle of buying and installing a video card that outputs HD (unless their computer has an integrated one).


Every modern machine can output HDMI.

There is no SDK for Apple TV and this has made many, many users extremely frustrated.


I would absolutely disagree. There absolutely is an SDK. You can use AirPlay to send a stream from an iOS device to Apple TV. That's not the cheapest or most convenient perhaps, but it is designed to work that way and there certainly is an SDK. Of course there are 189 millions iOS devices sold, about 2 million of which are Apple TV 2. So you have about 187 million remotes out there. (well, not exactly since the original models of iPhone and iPod Touch don't support AirPlay). But you get my point. It's ubiquitous.

BUT, remember the backlash against DRM and incompatible formats for mobile devices from the iTunes store?


No.

Not everyone has an iPod that will support m4a.


Everyone who has an iPod (which is mostly everyone) supports m4a. And any modern player from any company supports m4a. There is no DRM in the Music store any longer.

Now, concerning video, there will be a different view of the compatibility and ability to keep the content. The two pay structure on iTunes for renting or owning is the same as the brick and mortar store foundation used for VHS and DVDs (before most went out of business).


Sure. What else is there? Subscription? So far that's covered with Netflix on Apple TV. No current TV, but that's a licensing problem, not a technology problem.

When the consumer is provided a choice between a $7.99 a month fee to stream a film or TV show from Netflix or a $7.99 monthly fee to watch new episodes from major networks on Hulu Plus and then presented with an Apple App for .99 only to allow the ability to rent an HD film for $9.99 or own it for $19.99, the consumer will gravitate to the lower price.


A consumer can watch Netflix on Apple TV. As for your pricing, you're way off. An HD movie is $4-5, not $10-20 to rent. It's not RedBox, but they get titles sooner in most cases.

The closest Apple TV comes to open source is the Bonjour service: "Bonjour, also known as zero-configuration networking, enables automatic discovery of computers, devices, and services on IP networks using industry standard IP protocols." http://developer.apple.com/opensource/.


Depends on how you define it. Specific to how Apple builds Apple TV itself, you'll never get all those pieces. But the underlying *BSD, absolutely it's open source. WebKit is open source. And a lot of the rest are open standards (h.264 for example).

http://www.opensource.apple.com/


The SDK is for those of us that KNOW how the product works and can improve it.


Don't confuse open source with an SDK. My company, for example, has an SDK but is most certainly not open source. Same with Roku.

As shown above, Apple TV, Boxee, and WD TV Live are hindered by their ability to have the community contribute to the product's content offering.


That's most certainly not true of Apple TV and Boxee.

Because Roku allows users to utilize the SDK and actually compile the kernel, this gives Roku an advantage over the others.


Um, no. Roku doesn't give you the source to make their box. They give you the source to the open source components used in their box. They also have an SDK for developers to create channels.

That's working out so well in the wild west that is the Android market.....


This is a borderline non-sequitur. What does a software stack developed for mobile devices have to do with internet streaming devices like the Roku?


The reality that a non-curated store is probably not the best. This is why Roku only allows certain channels in their channel store. Users can sideload, but I don't think that's a good thing because a non-curated channel could potentially crash a Roku. For all we know it could revel personal information (likely could at least send location info) like apps in the Android store have. I disagree strongly with the concept that completely open makes it a good thing automatically.


Anyone can make a plugin for Boxee as they would for XMBC. Any guarantee that it would work with the underlying code of Boxee is suspect. Thus, again, does not trump Roku.


I think you just nailed the problem with non-curated, side-loaded channels on Roku. No guarantee it will work and not do something nefarious.

You seem to think Boxee is completely and fully open-source.


Nope.

And, you fail to acknowledge Boxee's manipulation of XMBC's code into a proprietary source that is not open.


Nope.

Yes. Yes we do. Want my sources? ;)


No, as I linked to the vendor's sites to back up my claims.
 
QuantumIguana
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:19 am

There are going to be a lot of people who only purchased their HDTV relatively recently, and won't be in the market for a new TV for years. Integrated streaming won't persuade them to ditch their existing STB. Unless there is an industry standard, I wouldn't expect to get many updates for integrated streaming.
 
StellarRat
Posts: 129
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:24 am

Roku's, DVR's, Blu-ray, DVD's, CD's, Home PC's, Even the TV in it's current form....they'll all go extinct eventually because they will be replaced by a device that does all that stuff. The only thing that is hold all that up right now is screen size. I'm pretty sure eventually even that will be solved by some type of holographic projector or glasses you wear that interface into the "entertainment/communications/productivity device", whatever that ends up being called. It will probably be like mega-cell phone that you can take anywhere.

In the near term, I'm expecting TV's to have the internet steamer built into to them, negating the need for a Roku.
 
stratcat96
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:37 am

the TV is a durable good that people don't replace on a constant basis everytime some new tech is touted. Even now with the country's economy still in a negative swing people aren't about to run out and replace TV's again. A $59 Roku + an existing TV still beats out a new TV with streaming built-in just in terms of price alone. IT's going to be along time if streaming takes a mainstream hold that it will just become commonplace for every TV in a household to have it built in. Until that distant day comes Roku and the other guys will still be selling their boxes.
 
-LD
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Re: The future of streaming players

Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:58 am

The smart move would be HTML5-based streaming built-into TVs AND solutions like Roku. That would eliminate the need for apps for every different device. There are still some legitimate DRM considerations with HTML5 video, but hopefully that can be sorted out in a universal manner.

Everyone could then make a WebKit-based browser offering stellar HTML5 support. This gets every manufacturer to a common, base level. You could build it into a TV and offer a pretty good experience. Then vendors like Roku or Apple can offer unique differentiators to lure customers in. Perhaps it's premium content, or games, or whatever. The point is, it would be nice to have a high-quality common denominator which I believe a browser-based HTML5 solution could provide since it would use open web standards. Beyond that vendors can produce value-add differentiators.

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