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Your Next Class Project: A Boxee or FiOS App?

Kids, stay in school! At least if you’re at NYU’s IPT program, that is, because its students can actually get credits for developing apps for Boxee, as NYU’s Shawn Van Every told the audience of the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco today. The school partnered with Boxee last fall to develop a number of apps that ended up being showcased at the startup’s Boxee Beta unveiling in Brooklyn. Shawn Van Every was joined on the panel by a number of small and big industry players to talk about newteevee innovation happening on campus.

Verizon (s VZ) FiOS TV Director of Interactive Video Services Maitreyi Krishnaswamy reported that the company has been reaching out to academic institutions as well. “We would love to be the incubator for these innovative applications,” she said, explaining that Verizon started the beta version of its FiOS developer program in October. It has since launched 25 apps on FiOS. “That is big in the cable industry,” Krishnaswamy said. Boxee co-founder Idan Cohen was quick to chime in and report that there are now over 300 apps available on his own company’s platform.  “Everyone has a Facebook and Twitter app,” he said. “That’s not interesting.”

Two of the apps mentioned by Van Every are, which provides contextual information gathered from Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube (s GOOG) based on the metadata of a video served by Boxee, and, which compiles a video playlist based on trending topics on Twitter, Google (s GOOG), and (s TWX). A big reason to go with Boxee was its openness, according to Van Every, who compared the low barrier of entry to the development of web apps. Usually, app developers would “face some uphill battles” when they tried to develop applications for TV, he said.

Krishnaswamy responded by saying that Verizon gradually wanted to open up its platform as well. The company currently has 20 partners developing widgets for FiOS, and it’s providing these partners with APIs as well as a FiOS TV interactive media guide emulator for PCs. It plans to open up its developer community in June, offering easier access to its FiOS SDK. However, there’s always going to be some level of consideration before apps get deployed.

Verizon also offers different levels of access for its APIs to different types of developers. There is going to be a basic tier for free and ad-supported apps without the need for rich metadata, an advanced level for content partners that want to develop apps that are closer related to FiOS programming and an academic level. Verizon will give content partners access to a wider range of APIs and metadata in exchange for revenue share agreements based on advertising, one-off charges or subscriptions. Academic institutions, on the other hand, will have access to the whole set of APIs for free, according to Krishnaswamy.

Related GigaOm Pro Content: With TV Apps, Over-the-Top Video Gets New Backers (subsxcription required)

One Response to “Your Next Class Project: A Boxee or FiOS App?”

  1. I was the moderator of this panel, and the writer chose to completely omit any mention of the work the cable industry (through is already doing with both NYU’s ITP program (which Verizon FiOS is not) and Ball State University – both of which have built and tested EBIF applications with our assistance.

    As I acknowledged at the panel, Boxee has done some interesting work with NYU students – and it’s becoming clear that there will be several paths to bringing academic apps to the TV. Cable is striving to help create that path through OEDN (the OCAP/EBIF Developer Network).