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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 18, 2013

TiVo's QPlay Set To Take On Streaming Market

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

While TiVo is commonly regarded in the field of cable, satellite and over-the-air, new reports suggest that TiVo is also casting an eye in the direction of streaming as well. It looks to get in on the field with the QPlay box, but will this new box be able to take on a wide field of currently-available offerings in streaming?

Two of the co-founders of TiVo—Jim Barton (News - Alert) and Michael Ramsay—started up InVisioneer and are out to redefine streaming boxes on the strength of the QPlay, and this device seems to have plenty of strength behind it indeed. A recently spotted FCC (News - Alert) filing for the device suggests that a release may be closer to hand than some might have foreseen, and further reports note that QPlay has been seen working with the likes of Netflix and Hulu (News - Alert) Plus in order to provide fodder for the device.

While there's not much specifically known about the device just yet—the entire description on the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers website, which provided some seed funding for InVisioneer, reads: “We provide a better way to find and watch quality TV and internet video.”--a user manual included in the FCC filing makes some interesting notes. While the device is set to connect to the television via HDMI connection, the QPlay apparently doesn't boast a remote control. Instead, there's a section that notes users should use an iPad to establish a Wi-Fi connection for the QPlay, then use that same iPad to carry out the device's functions.

Perhaps more unusual is how the QPlay box will deliver content. While things like Roku boxes and the Chromecast use a variety of third-party apps to route content to screens, the QPlay has its own specific app, which allows users to make playlists of videos and route said playlists accordingly, even to the point where users can browse other users' playlists and rate said playlists as desired. But how does the content get into those playlists? Early estimates suggested via YouTube or Vimeo (News - Alert) and the like, comparatively easy to find services with lots of easy-to-find video. But with reports emerging that Netflix and Hulu Plus were also approached, there could be more here than meets the eye.

It's a safe bet that the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show event in Las Vegas will settle a lot of this, because from where things sit right now, the QPlay box is going to have a real uphill battle in order to take on the names that are currently in play. It's already artificially limiting its own reach by requiring a tablet for use with it, though if it expands outward from “iPad” to include “all iOS devices as well as Android (News - Alert) devices,” that will certainly step up the numbers who can get in on this.

The biggest problem the QPlay is likely to face will come from the fact that there is not only a wide variety of streaming devices on the market, but also that there are many other devices that accomplish streaming and do something else. While the QPlay has what sounds like an exciting new interface, that may not be enough to get users who have already bought other devices interested in making a switch. It's going to take a clear value proposition to get users in the market, and only time will tell if the QPlay has what it takes.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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