Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year and see you in Vegas!

December 31, 2010

We have been really busy here at chumby during this holiday season and I wanted to give an update on a number of items that may be of interest to our friends.  We have made a lot of strides with some products that we have announced or partnerships we have been working on.  The first important item for us has been the release of our first software only product with the release of our Android client to the Android marketplace.  Our plan it to distribute this client through partnerships with tablet OEMs next year, but if you want to take a look firsthand, then it can be found in the Marketplace by searching for chumby in the Marketplace or you can use your Android device bar code scanner on our home page to direct your device to the application.  Currently we are charging $4.99 for the download.  We do expect to add some new functionality over time, but for now, we are pretty pleased with the reception.

The second important item has been pretty widely known for a while, but it is that we have continued to push our partnerships with others in new directions.  Over the holiday season Best Buy has released a 3.5 inch Infocast that is a very close cousin of the chumby One.  During the holiday season Best Buy has discounted the device as well as the 8″ Infocast substantially and this has resulted in a lot of new people discovering the world of chumby applications.  In addition to Best Buy, the chumby One is available at Costco online at some pretty attractive prices and has also been in other stores and retailers as well such as J&R electronics in New York.  2011 will see us to continue to push partnerships and also to bring a wider range of devices at different price points and with different types of focus in terms of functionality or use cases.

The third important item I wanted to share was about some of the core changes to our existing software for devices already in the field.  Our team has been hard at work on a number of items that we will announce next year, but I wanted to let you know that they are in the works.  Browsers will be coming to a number of the chumby powered devices in 2011.  While we are not ready to roll it out just yet, we have been deep in testing a webkit based browser on our existing platforms.  We have a pretty high degree of confidence that we will be able to get this on most of the devices we work with although there may be some restrictions that we are not able to overcome on the chumby Classic.  Once this is in place, we will be able to do things like allow people to click on URLs from the Twitter application, validate devices on university or hotel networks, and do on device registration for services like Facebook that require web based authentication.  While we have always been able to bring a slice of the Internet to our users, this will really open the doors about what is possible going forward with these devices.

In addition to our work on browsers, we have been busy upgrading our Flash based distribution for our devices.  Again, we are not ready to roll it out just yet, but look for us to roll out Flash Lite 4 and Action Script 3 sometime in early 2011.  We are currently holding a contest for AS3 based applications that we want to showcase when we launch.  You can find the details here.  Like the browser situation we may not be able to hit all of our legacy platforms, but we are hoping to cover as many as possible.  We will let you know more when we get close.

One item that I wanted to also talk about is content on chumby.  We are talking with a number of partners about new services that we want to bring to the devices including new music sources, and new applications like telephony and other things that we think would be of interest to our users.  We want to make sure that we keep making the devices you bought, more interesting and capable of doing more things than when you originally bought them.  Witness for example Sony rolling out services like Hulu Plus in the last couple of months.  While we expect to add a lot of new content, there are times where some of the content we have in our system may become unavailable or may change in ways that we don’t necessarily like.  While services like Android Marketplace and the App store from Apple actually download applications to your phone or tablet, our services are much more similar to a web browser and are in fact streamed from the cloud.

A byproduct of that different nature is that we can’t control what our partners want to do.  On the web, sites change.  Some like Delicious get acquired and may ultimately get shuttered much to the dismay of users like me.  Others move to pay walls in places like the news industry and users have to make a decision about whether or not it is useful for them to pay for the service which I do in the case of the Wall Street Journal.  Other services like Sirius XM require add on charges for using their service on devices like my Sonos or Android phone.  While it is our hope to continue to keep much of the content on our system free, the reality is that some of our partners have different realities or changes in strategies that we will have to deal with over time.  One prime example of that for us this week has been the discontinuation of our current relationship with The Weather Channel.  While they have been a great partner and one of our most popular applications, our agreement with them expires today and we didn’t feel that the economic terms that they require were sustainable for our business and will not be making their content available going forward.  In 2011 we plan on making the support of different business models an option so that users can do things like pay for services like theirs directly, or find other ways to reach mutually agreeable business terms.

Unfortunately though for the moment, those pieces aren’t in place, and we will be providing new alternative services to replace content that is no longer available.  In the case of weather we will be looking for new partnerships and will be allowing users to switch over to the NOAA application as a replacement option.  We will have the details out to people shortly

So that is some of the news around chumby HQ.  We will be at CES in force and will have some more specific news to share.  We thank you for all your support and wish you and your family a wonderful 2011.