Syabas Launches $129 "Popbox" OTT Device

--Unveils Extensive Line-Up of Content and Application Partners

Syabas, a Fremont, Calif.-based company that specializes in over-the-top set-top hardware and software (note: for more on the company's Popcorn Hour A-110 and C-200 OTT set-top boxes, see the article published on itvt.com, December 16th), today announced the launch of an open-platform OTT set-top box, dubbed the Popbox, which it says will stream music, movies, photos, games, social media updates and other content to HDTV's and will retail for $129. According to the company, the new device--which is slated to be available in March--supports "just about every" audio and video file type (note: a list of supported file types is available here) and recognizes content from the Internet, PC's, and USB-attached storage devices such as a Flip Video HD camcorder or an external hard drive.

Syabas bills the Popbox as being differentiated in the market by "its ability to handle virtually any file and content type, its ease-of-use and [its] open development platform," which the company claims enables media companies to rapidly develop, deploy and monetize a wide range of high-definition interactive applications and content. The company says it has signed up over 20 content and application partners for the new platform (see below), and that those partners will be able to give away or sell their content and applications on an app store called the Popapps Portal. Developers can sign up for the Popbox partner program at http://www.popbox.com. According to Syabas, the Popbox developer's kit consists of an SDK and an over-the-top set-top device SDK that incorporates the ability to develop and deploy applications on the Popapps Portal.

The Popbox's user interface was designed by Dewey Reid, who also designed the famous "cross-hairs" interface of the Moxi Media Center (for which he won an Emmy award back in 2004). According to Syabas, the UI lets users browse content from a wide range of Internet-based content channels, as well as a home networked media library, with full metadata-based navigation (note: the company says that its metadata partners include the IMDb), and also lets them interact through social networking sites and interactive multiplayer games. "I strongly believe that this year over-the-top set-top boxes will go from the niche enthusiast to the mainstream consumer," Syabas COO, Alex Limberis, said in a prepared statement. "Popbox is perfectly positioned to deliver everything from movies to photos, to music to games to Tweets in an inexpensive, easy-to-use platform that will drive this market forward in 2010."

According to Syabas, its content and application partners for the Popbox are Blip.tv (distributes 48,000 independently produced Web shows), CCTV (China's largest media company), Clicker (provides an Internet-based TV guide, featuring broadcast and "TV-quality" Web programming), Crunchyroll (offers anime movies and TV shows), Eyecon (enables consumers to connect to their content and route it to any compatible playback device in the home), FrameChannel (offers around 1,000 RSS-based content widgets in 12 languages--for more on the company and its recently announced partnership with Syabas, see the article published on itvt.com, December 16th), FunSpot (a casual gaming service from Accedo Broadband), the IMDb (provides a video search engine that supplies metadata for integrating a consumer's video collection with the corresponding movies' artwork), the Internet Video Archive (aggregates around 500,000 video assets from around 1,200 content providers), Livestation (provides live streams of various international news channels), MalaysiaKini (streams Malaysian video news and views), Mediafly (provides a service for managing digital media shows such as video and podcasts and downloading them to multiple types of devices), MetaChannels from Channels.com (a video aggregation and distribution service, billed as enabling device manufacturers and app developers to integrate Web shows into their product offerings), Netflix, Next New Networks (creates and syndicates Web shows), Photobucket (provides a service for uploading, sharing, linking and finding photos, videos and graphics), PicoChannel (billed as making it easy for people to share personal photos and videos on connected TV's and picture frames), Revision3 (produces original broadband video programming), SHOUTcast (operates a directory that provides access to around 32,000 professional and community programmed radio stations), Swarmcast (bills itself as "transform[ing] the Internet into a reliable medium for distributing high-quality video"), Twitter, Twonky (provides a service for streaming music, photos and videos to compatible devices in the home), Waterfront Entertainment (develops casual games for interactive TV, Web, mobile and other platforms), and Weatherbug (provides weather information services). "The openness of the Popbox platform is now enabling content providers and application developers to move beyond simple audio, video and photo playback and into more interactive realms such as multiplayer gaming and social networking," Syabas's Limberis said in a prepared statement. "From companies making applications that allow users to access media from any home PC to developers making channels that enable consumers to enjoy content from a multitude of sources, it's amazing to see the sheer number and variety of developers understanding the value that the Popbox platform can bring to their brands."

[itvt] plans to publish an interview with Syabas's Limberis in our Friday Interviews and Features issue.

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