Pioneering media center software project XBMC is getting ready for a major brand refresh: Starting with the upcoming version 14 of the software, it will be called Kodi. With the new name, the XBMC Foundation hopes to make it clearer that it isn’t actually working on any Xbox-related software anymore — and hasn’t been for at least six years.
XBMC is one of the longest-running media center and playback app projects. Originally launched in 2002 as a way to simplify media playback on Microsoft’s (S MSFT) first Xbox, it eventually evolved to become a media management and playback service for a wide variety of platforms, including Windows, OS X, Linux, Apple (S AAPL) TV and Android. (S GOOG) As an open source project, XBMC was also forked and used as a base for the original Boxee platform as well as for Plex.
One of the platforms that hasn’t been officially supported in a while is the Xbox. Some enthusiasts still use the original Xbox in combination with XBMC, but there have never been any apps for the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One. And that has led to a lot of confusion, according to XBMC Foundation project manager Nathan Betzen:
“Users persisted in posting in our forums, comments on news sites, and in social media that XBMC meant “Xbox Media Center,” no matter how hard we tried to convince them otherwise. And as a result, we would invariably be asked the question, “When are you going to support the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One?””
Adding to these issues were legal threats surrounding the use of the name, which was never trademarked. The XBMC Foundation has gotten help in its renaming process from the Software Freedom Law Center, and elected to adopt Mozilla’s approach to trademark licensing, while still keeping the software itself open source under the GPL 2.0 License.
So why Kodi? Betzen explained it this way:
“To pick the new name, all the various team members submitting naming ideas. Kodi was submitted… because it is possible, using the play/pause, stop, etc. buttons of a remote control, to spell out a facsimile of the word. Ultimately, we didn’t really like the design of the word using those buttons, because it was incredibly difficult to read. But we did like the underlying concept. Our software acts as the remote control for all your content.”