You may have heard of Spotify, the European music streaming app whose mystique has only deepened due to its unavailability in the U.S. The Stockholm-based peer-to-peer song streaming service offers ad-supported and paid versions, with a large library of licensed tracks.
Well, it seems Stockholm also has produced Spotify’s video equivalent, Voddler. Similarly, Voddler offers a downloadable app for ad-supported and paid streaming. (It beta-launched this summer, and a public debut in Sweden is due this fall). Voddler is notable for its high-quality streams at a low cost — apparently it goes up to 1080p (if a user can receive 8Mbps). But only some 1,500 testers are using the product today.
The company says it has 100,000 people waiting to receive beta invites. It looks like a secondary market for invites has already sprung up (see the “exclusive preview” video below promoting one such site), and forum readers are gobbling up posted screenshots.
With Boxee signing content deals, Vudu getting onto TVs, television distributors set to launch “TV Everywhere” subscriber content streaming, and many other similar efforts, Voddler’s not exactly stepping into a void. And the service strikes me as eerily similar to Joost, the highly anticipated Dutch P2P app that flopped due to technology problems, competitions, and in large part because of its small content library.
Information about Voddler’s content deals is strikingly absent from all the hype, though published screenshots include newly released Hollywood movies. Voddler has been telling the press (in Swedish) it will charge per view for first-run movies at the same time they are released to theaters. Perhaps the timing is right to get massive international next-generation TV and movie distribution rights…but perhaps not.
Voddler has actually been around since 2005 and has about 30 employees across offices in Palo Alto, Calif., and Beijing. It looks like the company has raised about $16 million from investors including Deseven Capital, Freja Ventures and Lotsa SA, according to SEC filings.
Voddler debuted a previous concept that emphasized bringing ad-supported content to the living room at a video startup face-off I moderated in 2007, where it received mellow interest. At the time, the company bragged it had “the world’s largest secure disk-array.” Voddler recently told OnSoftware it’s still looking to sell a Voddler box.