Essay: Can We Stop with the Video CE Hardware Already?

Silicon Valley is littered with the carcasses of set-top boxes that were going to revolutionize entertainment. Rather than learning from this grim history, however, some kind of failure torch is being passed from one generation of dying-out hardware makers to a new breed angling to take a prize that just isn’t there.

MovieBeam is emblematic of both the failures of video CE’s hardware past, and the futility of its future. After floundering for years, being bought and subsequently killed by Movie Gallery, MovieBeam is now in the process of being sold to Dar Capital for $2.25 million. Is that a bargain or a big waste of time and money?

We’re guessing the latter. The only companies who have shown any success in getting consumers to adopt set-top box hardware for video content on a massive scale are the cable and satellite companies (OK, the telcos are making strong headway, too).

And it’s not like a bunch of no-names have tried.

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Blockbuster Should Buy Redbox

Not to be left behind by the download revolution, video rental company Blockbuster is reportedly working on a set-top box to pipe movies directly to your TV. The move isn’t entirely unexpected — what else was it going to do with Movielink, the movie download service Blockbuster acquired for $6.6 million last year? But maybe the company should hit pause before going forward with it.

Blockbuster needs to do something to juice up its business because Netflix is eating its lunch. But getting into the hardware game will be an expensive endeavor, especially in an increasingly crowded field already packed with big names like Apple, TiVo, Xbox 360, Vudu and soon the Netflix LG box.

There is concern that forging ahead online could cannibalize Blockbuster’s existing real-world retail locations. But there’s a way for the two to co-exist — it should buy Redbox.

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Will There Ever Be Another MovieBeam?


After four years in existence, MovieBeam has entered the pantheon of services that should never have been offered, but were nonetheless, and failed almost immediately. The service was shut down for good this week; all that’s left is information on the Chapter 11 filing of its parent company, Movie Gallery.

Chapter 11 aside, many of us knew this day was coming. Long before it became the property of Movie Gallery, MovieBeam became the laughingstock of the VOD industry. So what, then, can be learned from MovieBeam’s failure?

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Moviebeam To Shut Down, Again

It is not for us to gloat in others failures, but seriously, this one? Again? Moviebeam, the movie datacasting service which had been shut d…