Oakland, Calif.-based media streaming startup Orb Networks has been acquired by Qualcomm, and is now winding down its operations in the coming months. A notice on Orb’s home page, first spotted by Engadget, only states that Orb’s team and technology have been acquired by a large strategic partner, but GigaOM has since learned that Orb actually got acquired by Qualcomm back in May.
Orb had been making software to transcode and stream web videos to DLNA-capable devices, and also released its own media streamer in 2010. The company also figured out a way to use the Blu-ray drive of Sony’s PS3 to run its own media streaming software, effectively turning the game console into a more complete media center.
However, Orb’s solutions were always a bit clunky. One of its biggest selling points was that it offered access to free Hulu content and other videos not available on connected devices. The tradeoff to access these videos was that users had to transcode them on their PCs, and as more content made its way to connected devices, consumers had less of a reason to jump through these kinds of hoops.
A post on Orb’s support forums explained that the company will not provide any bug fixes or updates to its software anymore. Orb’s server infrastructure will be shut down by the end of 2013.
I’ve reached out to Qualcomm, but haven’t heard back. But the acquisition seems to complement the chip maker’s vision for the connected home. Qualcomm’s Atheros unit has been working on various connected home and media shifting initiatives, including its Skifta audio streaming engine and its Alljoyn P2P home networking layer.
Orb raised a total of $4 million from Morgenthaler Ventures in 2010. There’s no word on how much Qualcomm paid for the company, but I’d be surprised if it was more than the typical acquihire.
Check out my 2010 interview with Orb Networks CEO Joe Costello below: