Bad news for Boxee Box users: they’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for Netflix to be available on the device. This is despite a ton of work that Boxee has done to lock down its software and ensure that third-party app makers won’t be able to access Netflix content.
In a blog post early Tuesday, VP of Marketing Andrew Kippen wrote that the Netflix app is working on a Boxee Box in the company’s office, but that the startup can’t issue it broadly to users because it hasn’t yet satisfied Netflix’s security requirements. While he didn’t provide any details about what those security requirements were, Boxee is introducing a new security model that will make it impossible to run third-party apps on the device if those apps aren’t signed with an API key released by the company.
Boxee was previously open to any third-party app, and in fact made it possible for developers to use so-called third-party repositories to distribute their applications without the knowledge or approval of the company. A few users immediately voiced concerns when word about the new app signing process was announced yesterday: In a forum thread related to the subject, one user said:
“I am not liking the sound of this. I really liked being able to run any third party app someone made. With the hardware locked down this was the only thing that was truly open about the device. Now we (are) potentially losing the ability to run whatever app we want.”
Boxee’s lead developer Rob Spectre immediately tried to quell concerns by saying that the goal of the new security model was merely to prevent apps from tampering with other apps or the Box itself. In other words: Boxee wants to rule out the possibility of someone developing an app to record Netflix or VUDU videos.
Spectre said that developers will be able to sign their own apps, which means that Boxee users will still have access to apps that haven’t been vetted by the company. But even though the added security enables Boxee to remotely disable apps, for example to prevent users from running a manipulated Netflix app, that apparently wasn’t enough for Netflix and its studio partners.
Boxee has been struggling to balance the desires of its most ardent users with the requirements of content partners it needs to get mainstream adoption. Due to the requirements of Netflix and other content partners, the startup has had to manage the approval of apps and related security much more closely on consumer electronics devices than it had done when it was just offering free media center software for PCs. That being said, the addition of the Netflix app should help to make the Boxee Box — and upcoming products from Iomega and Viewsonic — more appealing to most consumers.
Want to know how to optimize your Boxee Box experience? Then watch the newest episode of Cord Cutters below, or check out our list of 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Boxee Box.
Related GigaOM Pro Content (subscription required):