Matchstick streaming stick delays shipping to get Netflix and faster chips

Matchstick’s Kickstarter backers will have to wait a bit longer to get the Firefox OS-based streaming stick: Matchstick is delaying shipments until August, the company announced Friday.

Matchstick wants to use that time to put digital rights management (DRM) in place — a key requirement to get premium video apps like Netflix — and also update its hardware to a faster chipset. Originally, Matchstick wanted to ship first devices to backers in February.

In an update posted to Kickstarter Friday, Matchstick said it has been exploring a number of new applications for the streaming stick that would require higher local processing power. That’s why Matchstick is now planning to ship with a quad-core chipset as opposed to the dual-core Rockchip CPU that was originally announced when the company launched its Kickstarter campaign back in late September.

I had a chance to see some of those applications during a brief demo in San Francisco on Thursday: Matchstick Content Manager Dan Lee showed me the prototype of a video conferencing app that would use a phone’s camera in conjunction with the TV display as well as a second-screen app that displayed contextual information relevant to what was showing on TV on the phone.

Lee also said that a big focus for the coming months will be DRM. Matchstick has decided to use Microsoft’s Playready DRM in order to get access to Netflix and other premium content services. As a Firefox OS-based device, it has to build a lot of things from scratch to make content protection work, and Lee said that Matchstick intends to contribute code it develops to integrate DRM schemes back to the open source community.

By embracing DRM, Matchstick does follow in Mozilla’s footprints. The browser maker has only recently begun to implement DRM for its browser in order to not lose out on Netflix as the video service is switching from Flash to HTML5. However, Mozilla’s decision has also been heavily criticized by DRM foes, and some of Matchstick’s backers may feel the same about the company’s decision.

To get ready for the now-delayed launch, Matchstick is also planning to staff up and raise some funding for its U.S. operations. Currently, the company employs about a dozen engineers in Beijing and 6 employees in Santa Clara.

Check out this video I shot earlier last year, before the product as officially announced, for a first glimpse at Matchstick: