Exclusive: Viewsonic pulls the plug on Boxee TV

Viewsonic has abandoned its efforts to bring a Boxee-powered TV set to market, citing high costs and insufficient interest from consumers in so-called smart TVs.

The company had shown off a 46” TV set running Boxee’s media center software at CES, and at the time, said it would be available in the second quarter of 2011. Things have obviously changed since then: “ViewSonic is not releasing a Boxee-powered set in the near-term,” the company told us in an emailed statement this week after we asked about the status of the product.

The decision to pull the plug on the product is bad news for Boxee, which had hoped to move beyond set-top boxes with this collaboration. A Boxee representative told us that “the Viewsonic opportunity has been pushed to the side for the moment to concentrate on other opportunities,” but wasn’t able to elaborate further. I was told that the Iomega partnership that had also been announced at CES was still on track, with devices expected to come to market in mid October.

Asked about the reasons for its change of heart, Viewsonic sent us the following explanation:

“‘Smart TV’ has not achieved the consumer acceptance or market expectation… that was forecasted over the last couple years. In addition, consumer spending for Smart TV’s in general has experienced a significant slow down as the economy has slowed. Our current strategy is to stay involved with the various technology developments and consider them in the future as they become available.”

The company said it is closely following developments at Intel and other silicon vendors that could result in “future cost reduction.” In other words: The hardware currently necessary to run a media center solution like Boxee simply is too expensive. Viewsonic had planed to use Intel’s (s INTC) CE 4100 chipset, which also powers D-Link’s Boxee Box as well as Logitech’s (s LOGI) Revue Google (s GOOG) TV box.

Speaking of Logitech: The hardware peripherals maker recently had to admit that sales of its Revue box were far below expectations, and subsequently cut the price from $299 to $99. Looks like Viewsonic wanted to avoid a similar fate.