"We told them about Boxee, and since then we have learned to keep our mouth shut," said Ronen, suggesting cable executives haven't responded favorably to Boxee's business of providing software and hardware that can allow viewers to watch high-definition movies and TV series without a traditional TV subscription. (See Ronen: Boxee Isn't a Cable Killer and Boxee CEO: MSOs Should 'Go Over-the-Top'.)
Several hundred Boxee fans, many of them self-proclaimed cable cord-cutters, gathered at a launch party here Wednesday night. The crowd cheered as Ronen announced deals to deliver high-definition video from Netflix through the $199 Boxee Box. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) has been taking pre-orders since September. (See Boxee's Strong Start .)
Ronen said Boxee will add a dedicated Netflix button to the remote control that comes with the receiver, which will allow viewers that connect the box to their TVs through an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cord to access the service with one click of the remote.
Boxee users will soon get access to Hulu Plus, the $9.99 monthly subscription video service. But it's far from alone. TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO), Roku Inc. , and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) Playstation 3 boxes are also getting access to it. (See Hulu Opens Toll Road and TiVo, Roku Hook Up Hulu Plus .)
Still, the arrangement with Hulu is significant for Boxee, since the top Internet video giant has previously blocked Boxee's attempts to deliver its free, ad-supported version directly to the TV. "It's true -- we're friends now," Ronen said. (See The Hulu Situation.)
In addition to supporting HTML5 applications, Ronen said the Boxee Box will also bake in more than a dozen Internet video codecs. Several of the codecs Ronen touted, including MKV, AVI, and AAC, are popular with BitTorrent and other file-sharing services.
Boxee's core strategy is delivering a platform that enables viewers to easily browse and search for high-quality Internet video content delivered through a broadband connection to its new Boxee Box, which is manufactured by D-Link Systems Inc. and is powered by an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processor.
Boxee faces competition from much bigger technology companies looking to make a business from helping consumers watch Internet video content on a TV, ranging from TiVo and its new broadband-connected Premiere DVR to new broadband video devices from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL). (See Google TV Guns for Cable Deals and Dish's Google TV Exclusive Will Be Brief .)
Some technology companies that generate most of their revenue from cable operators are also looking to grow their businesses from over-the-top video, including interactive program guide specialist Rovi Corp. , which is making Internet video the key draw of a version of its TotalGuide for consumer electronics manufacturers.
"We’re in a category where some people are both competitors and customers or partners," Rovi VP of marketing Dave Jordan said when asked if he considered Boxee a competitor.
Also worth noting from the launch of the Boxee Box:
— Steve Donohue, Special to