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Summary:

Two co-founders of TiVo want to give TV another shot. This time, their new product is all about streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

qplay box

TiVo co-founders Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton are about to release a new TV companion device that aims to combine video discovery and curation with smart TV functionality. Dave Zatz recently spotted an FCC filing for the QPlay-branded device a few days ago, which suggests that the release is imminent. Zatz also found a bunch of other clues, and I’ve learned in the last few days that some of the services QPlay is working with include Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Here’s what we know about QPlay:

QPlay has been developed by a San Jose-based company called InVisioneer. Ramsay is the company’s CEO and Barton is CTO and President. The company’s other hires include engineers from Apple, Google and Linden Lab. The company received a seed round of financing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in September.

Here’s what InVisioneer says about itself:

“Our passion is innovative products that people love to use. In the past we disrupted industries to do what was right. We’re gearing up to do it again.”

I know, that’s not very specific. Here’s a bit more detail, courtesy of a job ad surfaced by Zatz:

“InVisioneer is building a product that sits at the nexus of exciting trends in video, mobile, and social.”

And here’s the company’s description on Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ website:

“We provide a better way to find and watch quality TV and internet video.”

The aforementioned FCC filing adds some more details, thanks to a user manual included in the filing. The QPlay companion box connects to TVs through HDMI, but it comes without a remote control. Instead, users are told to use their iPad to set up Wifi for and interact with the device, suggesting that QPlay functions similarly to Chromecast.

However, there are also some key differences: Whereas Chromecast is primarily about letting users beam content to the TV screen from within a variety of third-party apps, QPlay instead focuses on curation through its own dedicated app. Essentially, QPlay will offer users apps for iOS devices to discover, collect, share and watch videos. Users will be able to make their own playlists of videos, share them with others through the service as well as Facebook and Twitter, browse the playlists of their friends and apparently also rate playlists.

The big question is: Playlists of what? Zatz guessed last week that this is all about videos from YouTube, Vimeo and similar services — the low-hanging fruit that would be easy to get access to for InVisioneer. However, I have since learned that QPlay is more about premium video, and that the device will likely give consumers access to content from Netflix and Hulu Plus as well as possibly Amazon.

Lots of details about QPlay are still unclear, but given the timing of the FCC filing, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see many of them revealed at the upcoming CES in Las Vegas next month.

  1. My Roku already does this

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  2. Maybe they will figure out how to run the company rather than running it into the ground. Tivo is a case study in business failure because these guys didn’t know the real benefits of their own product . . .

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  3. Tivo got caught by cable companies that could co-op the base functionality of the product without paying to license the superior UX. Cable users didn’t like it as much but could get what they still wanted. Angels shed a tear for each MSO that knocked off their idea and stuffed more money into their well lined pockets. Then, Tivo was too late to get into streaming (recall they started with a dial up network interface). I’m hopeful that they bring some freshness to the stream box UX/feature set and have learned enough first-to-market lessons to move into an already noisy space and hope they have a competitive advantage. Like Apple, Tivo enjoyed very high customer loyalty but sadly were on the wrong side of a monopoly play.

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  4. Looks like they have a new website now at http://www.qplay.co

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