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Fanhattan Takes Content Discovery to the Cloud

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Forget about apps. The real work in content discovery is happening in the cloud. But you’d never know it, as a new offering from Vuze uses cloud data to create the front-end video discovery service for a wide range of connected TV devices.

The new offering, called Fanhattan, works by wrapping aggregating vast stores of movie data in a 10-foot user interface that’s perfect for TV viewing. Vuze hopes to be able to embed that content discovery engine into connected devices like new HDTVs and Blu-ray players, simplifying the way users navigate and find the movies they want to watch, whether they be available for streaming through subscription services like Netflix, (s NFLX) viewable on authenticated TV services like HBO Go (s TWX) or on-demand for purchase or rent from Amazon (s AMZN) Video On Demand or Vudu. (s WMT)

Fanhattan is driven by data that Vuze acquired through its purchase of The Open Movie Database, a formerly independent user-generated store of movie and entertainment information. Vuze has done a good job of prettying that data up, combining pictures, movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and trailers from sites like YouTube (s GOOG) to make finding a movie through Fanhattan easy.

Vuze wants to make Fanhattan the go-to way for users to find content on connected devices, and to that end, it’s talking to consumer electronics manufacturers about making the service available either as an app or as the front-end browsing tool for any content or streaming services that might be available on their devices. The key to all this, however, is a cloud-based approach that takes the heavy lifting off the processor and enables Vuze to install a very thin client to power the service.

Vuze’s approach takes cues from Netflix and other video services moving to HTML5 and web services to create experiences for multiple devices without having to rewrite code for each one. By doing so, Vuze needs only to create a new application wrapper for Fanhattan to reach many different devices.

Fanhattan doesn’t have any buy-in yet from device makers, which means you shouldn’t expect to see it on connected devices until at least early 2011. Indeed, the first implementations the company is promising will be PC and Mac (s aapl) applications, which it believes it will be able to bundle with its Vuze software. Before that, Vuze also needs some partners in the content space, as it promises only to display content from distributors that it has struck deals with.

While Vuze has its work set out for it on the partner side, the cloud-based approach to content discovery is a smart move forward not just for finding content, but also to displaying it on connected devices.

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