Boxee’s Open Attempt to Crack the Closed World of Content

Boxee, the popular open-source media center platform, will signal its long-term strategy this Monday with the launch of a new consumer electronics device on which the platform will run — the Boxee Box. In the meantime, NewTeeVee reported today that Boxee is also adding the Clicker app, which provides slick program guide and search features, to its software. And the company continues to strike new deals with content providers.

But Boxee is, in many ways, swinging for the rafters with its attempts to insert an open source media center software platform into the path of territorial media executives, who are used to striking cloistered — and typically proprietary — content deals. This fact came to a very public head a few months ago, when Hulu demanded that Boxee remove its video content from its platform.

The company’s potential for massive success — and failure — with the Boxee Box is becoming increasingly apparent. Boxee must not only keep its platform open, as OStatic recently noted, but it must find ways to woo content partners. And it must handle said content partners with care. As Ryan over at NewTeeVee wrote:

“If Boxee simply ports the software and all the channels that it and others have created into its Boxee Box without the permission of content owners — in other words, if it’s committed to remaining open and allowing anyone to build content channels for the device — then it risks alienating potential content partners.”

The post prompted a response in the comments section from CEO Avner Ronen, who said that “Boxee will remain an open platform, while respecting the rights of content owners.” Ronen also responded to the OStatic post, with:

“Boxee and XBMC [Boxee’s open source core] are based on GPL, so any partner of ours need to accept it as a requirement. In our discussions with CE makers and content partners it is being raised as a concern, but in most cases we are able to address it. There is still a lot of misconception regarding what it means to work with an open-source project.”

And he went on to add that:

“There is still lots of work for us to do to make them feel comfortable about working with Boxee. The main issue has to do with the concern media companies have about upsetting their existing channel (i.e. Cable/Sat).”

We’ll know much more about how Boxee intends to marry its open platform with potentially closed-minded content executives in just a few days. Stay tuned.