Boxee CEO on Apple TV: Not Enough Freedom

avner ronen

Speaking with Boxee CEO Avner Ronen, you don’t get the sense that his company is nervous about playing in the big leagues. Boxee’s first hardware product, the Boxee Box by D-Link, has been available for preorder since yesterday, and will squarely compete with similar products from Apple and Google. So how does Ronen feel about facing off against the big boys? “We think the Boxee Box will compete very well in that environment,” he told me yesterday during an interview in San Francisco (see the complete interview embedded below).

In fact, he criticized Apple for limiting the Apple TV’s choice in video sources to Netflix, iTunes and YouTube. “I think in 2010, people want more freedom,” he said.

Ronen was a little more nuanced when talking about the Google TV. He doubted that concentrating on a search bar is a good value proposition for a mainstream audience, but acknowledged that Android’s openness would be beneficial for the set-top box market. “Google could be (a) good partner for us,” he added.

That doesn’t mean Boxee has completely given up on Apple either. The company is currently working on an iPad application, Ronen said, which will work for video viewing and as a companion device to the Boxee Box. However, bringing the Boxee experience to the iPad has been challenging. “There (are) format limitations that are out of our control,” he told me, alluding to the fact that the iPad doesn’t play Flash.

Ronen also said the company is planing to do an Android version of Boxee as well, but work on this platform hasn’t begun yet.

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