Simple.tv began taking limited preorders of its DVR on Kickstarter Wednesday morning and also announced that it would start shipments and regular sales of the device in August. Simple.tv is a DVR geared towards the cord-cutting crowd, enabling users to record over-the-air shows and then stream them within their home network and beyond. It is just one of many hardware startups that has flocked to Kickstarter in recent months.
Simple.tv is a bare-bones DVR that can be hooked into one’s home network and connected to a regular over-the-air antenna. Users have to attach their own external hard drive and can then stream recorded programming to up to five devices. Simple.tv will have apps for the Roku, the iPad and a web app to watch TV via web browsers available at launch, and is working on extending the service to connected devices like the Boxee Box and Google TV.
Check out Simple.tv’s Kickstarter promo video, or continue reading below:
The company will sell their DVR device for around $150 when it goes on sale in August, which is slightly more than the current pricing on Kickstarter. Sales will initially be facilitated through Simple.tv’s website as well as Amazon.com. Simple.tv CEO Mark Ely told me during a phone conversation Thursday that he hopes to be in retail stores in time for the holiday season. People who buy the device will have the option to subscribe to a programming guide that brings TiVo-like recording functionality to Simple.tv for $5 a month, or schedule their programming manually for free.
Kickstarter: Great for CE startups
A number of consumer electronics startups have taken their wares to Kickstarter recently; one breakout example has been the Pebble smart watch, which booked more than 85,000 preorders and $10 million in revenue by the end of its Kickstarter campaign (for more on this, also read Om’s interview with Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen).
Ely said that his company didn’t initially plan to take its product to Kickstarter, but was swayed by some of these success stories. “There is a marketing aspect to Kickstarter,” he admitted. But he also argued that Kickstarter is about more than generating buzz and securing preorders. “For us, a way to quickly gather the level of sales we are going to get,” he told me.
That kind of data can be instrumental in ordering the right amount of devices, which can both bring down the production costs and help to avoid large quantities of unsold inventory. And a company can get feedback from its consumers before it has even shipped a product. “It gives us some additional insight into the audience,” said Ely.