Next Up For Boxee: A Blu-ray Player?

The Boxee Box isn’t even on the shelves yet, but Boxee is already working on plans to bring its software platform to other devices as well. Boxee’s vice president of marketing Andrew Kippen sat down with me a few days ago to talk strategy, and he told me that the company wants to have another Boxee-powered device available to consumers before the end of the year. He declined to provide further details about partnership deals, but told me that the company is eyeing Blu-ray players as a logical next step.

Kippen also told me that Boxee has seen 110,000 new users since the launch of its beta software at CES in January, and that his company is pleased with the scrutiny with which Washington is investigating the merger between Comcast (s CMCSK) and NBC Universal (s GE).

Kippen called the Boxee Box “step one,” and then revealed: “Step two for us is Blu-ray, step three would be TVs and game consoles.” Kippen also cautioned that many consumers have already taken the leap to buy an HDTV, and won’t open their pockets for another TV set any time soon, even if it is Internet-enabled.

Blu-ray players, on the other hand, have only recently seen a larger uptake, with consumers slowly warming up to the new medium. The New York Times reported in December that 7 percent of all U.S. households now own a Blu-ray player, and many more seem to be ready to buy into the format. Companies like DivX and VUDU have already announced deals to bring their platforms to Blu-ray players from companies like LG and Toshiba. It’s only logical for Boxee to forge deals of its own in this field as soon as possible.

Speaking of soon: Boxee and its hardware partner D-Link have publicly stated that they’re going to release the Boxee box in Q2 of 2010. Kippen told me that it will initially only be available in the U.S. and Canada, but that both companies are hoping to bring the product to international markets soon after. Boxee has seen a lot of interest in its products since the announcement of the Boxee Box and the launch of its new software beta at CES. It now has 870,000 registered users, up from 760,000 at the beginning of the year, according to Kippen.

Boxee recently made headlines with a very different story when its product was mentioned during a congressional hearing about the Comcast / NBCU merger, where NBC CEO Jeff Zucker called Boxee’s approach to play content from Hulu illegal, demanding that companies like Boxee should license content before they make it available through their products. Kippen told me that they believe Zucker is wrong, but that they’re going to take Zucker at his word and approach both NBC and Hulu about deals to bring their content to Boxee through a licensed application. He also said that the company has been very pleased with the attention these issues are getting in Washington right now. “It’s been really reaffirming to us to see how the FCC and the Obama administration are handling technology,” he said.

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