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What Happened to Boxee TV?

BoxeeTV

Ever heard of Boxee TV? If so, you may remember its brief claim to fame in the video streaming market. And if not, you’re not alone.

Although Boxee did see some success in its heyday, that success was short-lived. The company ran privately for six years and then was bought out by Samsung.

What is Boxee TV?

At its core, Boxee TV operated as the world’s first Cloud DVR, which means users didn’t run into the issues of not having enough space like they encountered with other DVR options. It required a $15/month fee for DVR but none for the other streaming services. The device streams TV channels and DVR recordings to nearly any Internet-connected device and users watch most shows in HD. Boxee TV uses various Internet apps to provide additional content to its users, including Netflix, YouTube, VUDU, Pandora, Spotify, MLB.TV, and more.

The History of Boxee TV

Boxee began as software, which users mostly ran on Apple TVs or Mac minis, and was a new way to stream online videos to a television and see what friends were watching as well. But in 2009, with Hulu not onboard and its user base not reaching its potential, Boxee ran into trouble.

In 2010, to remedy this situation, Boxee introduced its first piece of hardware, the Boxee Box, which was a set-top box that made using the Boxee software’s interface easier. However, by this time, Boxee was no longer the leader of the pack and its competition had grown exponentially. Game consoles, Blu-ray players and the less expensive Roku boxes were now able to stream videos to TVs as well. Most consumers just wanted access to Netflix and these other options offered that and more.

Boxee made attempts to increase sales, such as offering Netflix support and a $49 accessory used to tune in to over-the-air channels, but they weren’t enough. Boxee’s next move was to introduce Boxee TV in October 2012.

At first glance, Boxee TV, originally listed for $99, was ahead of its time with its Cloud DVR feature. However, this feature was only available in eight metropolitan areas—a fact not known by many of its initial buyers, who then turned around and immediately brought the product back.

After a while, some upper management decisions went against Boxee and isolated its user base. VentureBeat outlined three reasons why Boxee ended up in the hands of a larger company: failure to maintain support for older products, poor customer service and abandoning its die-hard fans—twice.

In April 2013, Boxee TV tried one last makeover and rereleased the device as Boxee Cloud DVR in an attempt to highlight its most unique selling point. After Boxee struggled to receive another round of venture funding, Samsung bought the company for $30 million in July 2013. Boxee officially ended its Cloud DVR service but still operated as a venue for watching the other apps, like Netflix. Over the next year, Boxee fizzled out as the Samsung-sponsored Tizen software developer kit for televisions ultimately took its place, as of early June 2014.

Where is Boxee TV today?

You can still purchase the Boxee TV box on Amazon for about $40, where it has three and a half stars out of five, and the box and remote from Wal-Mart for $98, where it currently has two out of five stars.

Boxee TV has been out of the news for some time now, ever since Samsung bought it in 2013. It did pop up in the headlines again in April 2014, when it was hacked and the perpetrators leaked over 158,000 user accounts information, like email addresses, passwords, birth dates, IP addresses and full messaging histories from the Boxee database. This included 172,234 emails addresses from 17,653 different email providers, and nearly 5,500 email addresses belong to high profile electronic and telecommunication companies. Google’s Gmail service accounted for 77,061 accounts.

Reportedly, a hacker going by the alias ProbablyOnion took credit for the leak. Allegedly, he and other cyber attackers hacked Boxee’s database just as it was integrating into Samsung. The hacker said he primarily wanted, “mostly to make fun of Samsung, and whatnot. Plus, really, they’re running unsecure software, and I’m still sitting with a backdoor on it, so really, they’ve learned nothing.”

It appears Boxee met its demise under the wing of Samsung, who took a chance on capitalizing on an idea ahead of its time that eventually took the company nowhere. Boxee is still available for anyone interested in buying one of the now ancient models, in a tech world as quickly evolving as today’s, but in the end, Boxee ended up not working out for those looking for a different TV solution.


Photo: Boxee
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Jess Hutton loves to research, and she loves playing with apps, gadgets, and food. When she's not face-to-face with a screen, she and her husband take their two dogs out for hikes and ice cream.

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