Boxee CEO: Google TV is ‘a Great Opportunity’

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Google’s launch into the living room with the introduction of its Google TV could threaten Boxee, Roku and other broadband-connected set-top makers. But despite the fact that the search giant’s TV platform could compete directly with the startup’s upcoming Boxee Box, Boxee CEO Avner Ronen said at TechCrunch Disrupt today that the launch of Google TV could also present an opportunity for the startup.

“If Android finds its way onto TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices, that’s a great opportunity for us,” Ronen said. That’s because, by creating a way for Boxee to run on Android-enabled devices, Google could actually make it easier for the startup to reach its consumer base through the Android app store.

“If someone hears about Boxee from a friend, the process between hearing about it and getting it onto the TV is a cumbersome process,” Ronen said. Boxee users today must download the application, install it, connect their computer to a TV and find a way to control that application — either through an iPhone or Android remote control app. But by developing an app that runs on the Google TV platform, Boxee could simplify that process.

Boxee is increasingly interested in getting its software on consumer electronics devices. The startup recently posted a job listing for a “Lead iPad and iPhone App Developer.” But Boxee will most likely extend its app development to Android devices, particularly for those that are part of the Google TV platform.

While creating a Googe TV app could facilitate downloads of the Boxee software, Ronen admitted that there were risks involved in competing with Google on TVs and other connected devices. “Obviously there are risks. [Google TV] could be complementary, or it could be dangerous,” Ronen said.

That said, Ronen’s view on how viewers might want to connect to the Internet on the television differs from what Google demoed at its I/O developers conference last week. Google showed a browsing experience on Google TV that looked very much like what one would see on a PC browser. But Ronen doesn’t think that’s how people want to use the Internet on the TV.

“We do have a difference in some vision for how video on the web will be consumed,” Ronen said. “I don’t think TV is a great browsing device… I think people will gravitate toward a 10-foot optimized experience rather than what we have today.”

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