Boxee, the New York City upstart whose set-top boxes stream online videos to your TV, is attempting to improve its outside apps experience as a way to set itself apart in the crowded Net TV market, where Google (GOOG) is preparing to open up its Google TV offering to third-party developers.
The company is also working on an iPad app to allow streaming from tablets to televisions or PCs, which Boxee hopes to release by the end of July.
Boxee, founded in 2007, lets users watch films from services like Netflix (NFLX) and VUDU as well as live content through partnerships with the BBC and Major League Baseball.Boxee is also plugged into social networking, delivering video recommendations with friends on Facebook and Twitter. A "watch later" function lets you send web videos and shows to your device form any Internet browser. The Boxee box, a small piece of hardware that plugs into your TV, can be purchased for $199. It's controlled by a simple remote with a QWERTY keyboard on the back. Users can also build their own Boxee device by downloading free software, installing it onto a computer and controlling it through an iPhone. Boxee initially began as a software-only company that required users to install its program on a computer. Strong demand from users and a partnership with networking product maker D-Link enabled Boxee to launch its own hardware device last year. "We've jumped into the hardware world where we've had a crash course in how all the different components work together, how manufacturers work with us and how the pieces of the puzzle come together," said Andrew Kippen, vice president of marketing at Boxee. Aside from Google and Apple (AAPL), Boxee also faces competition from start-ups like Roku. The company, which has sold over 110,000 Boxee boxes since the device's release, has raised more than $26 million in three rounds of funding from high profile investors including Spark Capital, Union Square Ventures, General Catalyst Partners and Softbank NY. It has 35 employees.
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