Qualcomm's Place-Shifter

5:50 PM -- An outfit called Skifta got quite a lot of ink from last week's Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) bash -- lots of matter-of-fact mentions that it's integrated into the new ReadyNAS Ultra home-storage box. So, who are these guys?

Skifta is a Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)-owned startup that does place-shifting for almost any media. I don't want to say "any" because of some TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)-like exception that might be out there. (See Netgear Can't Set TiVo Free.)

Skifta's software turns some Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) -certified, Internet-connected devices -- a laptop, for instance -- into an extension of your home network, so that your stored videos and photos can be inflicted on people while you're on the road.

There's a similarity to what Orb Networks Inc. does, but Skifta is more contained, stretching the reach of your network to specific devices.

How cool is it? Can't say. There was apparently a problem on each end of Skifta's Internet connection, so they weren't able to show me how their desktop computer in San Francisco could access COO Ed Smith's wedding pictures from San Diego. (I told him I would have dismissed the whole demo as fake anyway.)

Skifta has been skulking around the industry for about a year, but it hasn't been a complete secret -- it's spent a year signing up testers and seeing how they use the product. The real commercial launch comes sometime in the next six months.

In preparation for that, the team is getting augmented with media people. I met Gary Brotman, who'd joined as head of marketing four days earlier. He comes from the world of online music, where he'd worked for Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and others. Four days on the job, and he gets a road demo that doesn't work. Welcome!

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:30:00 PM
re: Qualcomm's Place-Shifter

Anyone use Skifta out there? Want to report?

Heck, is anyone using Orb, either? Last week was the first time I'd ever seen the service in action.  Are there Orb fanatics out there?

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:29:58 PM
re: Qualcomm's Place-Shifter

Played about with Orb when it first came out. The idea that it would transcode media to send it over the 3G network seemed a good one (possibly still is).

What I found was having to leave your home or office computer running in case you might like to stream, say, a music track while you're out didn't really work. It's not environmentally justifiable for one thing.

I saw the Skifta demo late last year. It seemed kinda cool, but appeared to have the same problem. They said they were working on that and there would be some way for you to store your content in the network.

Also it turns if you have just one, non-networked, old-style, TV in your house, there's not actually much you can do with it.

That might be a problem. People who have the compatible TVs, DVRs, home media servers, iPhones, etc, probably have enough stuff to watch already.


Gary Brotman 12/5/2012 | 4:29:44 PM
re: Qualcomm's Place-Shifter

I must say - my first week with the Skifta team was certainly a whirlwind, but quite fun.

Connectivity at the event (or lack thereof) was certainly a challenge, but in all fairness this was not a Skifta problem. The Internet went down completely at the NETGEAR launch event and all partner demos were without access.

The Skifta service is very relaible from a connectivity standpoint, but as with any Internet-based service we are just as dependent on the quality of the bandwidth at the point of access as anyone else.

Craig - we're ready to give you a proper demo or get you set up with Skifta on your home network when you're ready. Just say the word.



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:29:38 PM
re: Qualcomm's Place-Shifter

Thanks, Gary. Didn't mean to imply that the network connectivity problem was somehow Skifta's fault!

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