Strangeberry’s Secrets Revealed

Forgive me for the “tabloid” style headline. However, my last week’s post on why TiVo bought Strangeberry for an undisclosed amount of money opened the floodgates on tips and comments which have led me to write a follow-up, a more expose sort of a post. One of my sources who is intimately familiar with Strangeberry tipped me off on further details. He said, that while my analysis was quite right, it only told half the story. And that alone had me hooked.

Apparently the digital hub strategy was right on the money, and sometime during 2003 the company was showing off the digital hub and digital remote control features useing ReplayTV devices in a home network scenario. In fact we have heard of demos that streamed video from ReplayTV boxes to the televisions around the house over local networks. Like most of you, I was also wondering how does that happen? There has to be some sort of a hardware device – what folks call digital media adapters. Those rumors are quite prevalent and might actually be true.

Marc adds:

Strangeberry was started by Rob Currie and Arthur Van Hoff – two former Marimba folks.Ôø‡ Kim Polese introduced me to them.Ôø‡ They had a killer home networking OS which built on top of a Java implementation of Rendevouz. The system enabled humans to point their remote control at a TV – and selct any PC on the Home LAN.Ôø‡ The human coudl then select any movie, song or photo and have it play/display on the TV set.Ôø‡ All totallyc lean, smart, no stupid installs, blah blah blah.

Moreover, my sources tell me that I should be looking into their software expertise, and point to the original Tivo statement, “Strangeberry has created technology that enable the development of new broadband-based content delivery services.” In other words, Strangeberry has developed a software platform, where content providers such as magazines, television networks, advertisers, and others can send content directly to the Strangeberrys over the internet. In other words, the content providers have full control over the choices that show up on the screen, the user interface shown to the user, and can have data transmitted back to them over an Internet connection.In other words go to sleep, get up in the morning and have the latest Jenna Jameson video downloaded to your hard disk. Or pay $2 and get the top ten MTV tracks. Or simply, download the CNN headline news. Now, that’s a killer app.

(Tivo has agreements to sell advertising, or promo clips for movies from two hollywood studios, Paramount and Fox. This is a cool way for company to deliver stuff on the data, and also at the same time become a digital hub of the home. General Motors, Club Med, Chrysler, FX, Porsche and PBS are other companies that have all delivered promotional content this year to TiVo subscribers via the Showcase platform.) This jives pretty well with Alexander Grundner, who edits the eHomeUpgrade.com has to say in his fantastic analysis on why TiVo might be oiling itself for a grapple contest with Microsoft. I buy his argument.

If you connect all the dots, to come to a speculative conclusion, the partnership with Strangberry will lead to a device, coupled with a possible TiVo compatible Media Adapter, that will give Windows Media Center (WMC) a run for its money. You might be wonder, what is he talking about? But hear me out. This is the exact same market Microsoft is going after.

A no PC required Digital Media Server that is digital video recorder, broadband entertainment content/services device, and a home network digital media streaming device all in one. Moreover, TiVo will introduce accompanying Network Media Adapters that will be able to stream the content from the TiVo server (and from network PCs) to other rooms in the house; as well as, be able to remotely program the TiVo server to record television programs and order on-demand services like movies, music, games, etc.

TiVo might have a good chance of winning. The answer comes from Ryan Sarver. I could not have said it better myself.

Where I think TiVo shines is actually in interface development. They have put tons of time and energy into building an intuitive, user-friendly interface that stands head and shoulders above any other PVR or such type device I have seen. In fact to further refine their definition, their strength lies in developing remote control driven interfaces for set-top boxes.

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