Time to say goodbye a placeshift pioneer, Orb Networks


While most folks who talk about placeshifting point to Sling as the primary early entrant in the market, there was another player in the space that popped up at about the same time that was as equally innovative in Orb Networks.

And now, as Janko wrote about last week, Orb is going away, shutting down its site and service by the end of 2013. The company has been acquired by Qualcomm, which CEO Joe Costello says was necessary to help Orb’s underlying technology become more widely used.

Here’s an excerpt from Costello’s post on the Orb site:

We are proud to say that Orb’s team and technology have been acquired by one of the large strategic partners who completely shares the Orb vision for building a standard platform for media solutions and beyond. They had already been investing aggressively in this technology and felt that Orb’s work was perfectly aligned with their vision and would significantly accelerate and expand their offerings and capabilities. Orb will be leading the streaming media effort in the new company. We feel confident that this will lead to far broader adoption, better consumer experiences and many more product options for customers. Stay tuned for announcements about the fruits of this joining of forces later this year.

Over the past few years the company has shifted its focus a bit to become a DLNA media streaming company, but early on they were primarily a software-centric placeshifting offering that allowed users to basically do what other early placeshifting companies like Sling and Sony did in hardware.

In retrospect, the company’s offering never was as elegant or easy to use for any sort of placeshifting that most of the people who use Sling like to use the technology for – which is to watch placeshifted content on the TV screen – but nevertheless it was an innovative company that bobbed and weaved for most of its existence (later getting into hardware with Orb TV, but never quite catching the imagination of any of those looking to put over-the-top content on the big screen).

I’m interested to see if we ever see anything of Orb’s technology under the Qualcomm banner. Costello says that Orb will lead the company’s streaming media efforts, but I have a feeling there’s a good chance that this was an IP acquisition/acquihire by Qualcomm that probably doesn’t see much light of day down the road.

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