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.



7 Responses to “Happy New Year and see you in Vegas!”

  1. Stephen Inoue Says:

    Very cool update! I appreciate the honesty and insight about what is next for Chumby.

    I think the Android move is brilliant. Charging $5 may be a barrier for some so I hope you come out with a free lite version that limits the number of Chumby apps, or some other way to still allow folks to discover Chumby on Android (at least while you are building up your user base).

    The candor about a rough transition with partners like Weather Channel wanting to charge for content is understandable, but I do hope that a HUGE emphasis is being put into making it EASIER for customers to get started with you. Currently setting up a Chumby and figuring out what you use it for is beyond most non-tech folks. You really need to put the apps channel front and center on the devices and let first time users select a “Chumby Experience” for using Chumby as a first rate clock, a kid safe device (Sunny Delight), a photo frame, etc.

    Focus groups would tell you that there is a large group of folks that don’t get what a Chumby is or how they can use it, and you need to bridge this in order to grow (aka more devices when the experience sucks is not the strategy).

    Keep up the great work and keep your team motivated! Changing the future is never easy!

  2. mike Says:

    The problems with the chumby platform are numerous. It needs a complete overhaul.
    1. Make chumbys reliable. having my alarm clock lock up in the middle of the night due to a wifi problem is NOT acceptable.
    2. Remove the stupid flash platform. There is NO reason for chumbys not to be able to render HTML5 full screen and act as kiosk mode browsers. Keep flash for legacy devices.
    3. Remove the reliance on external servers. A chumby should download ONCE A DAY MAX and cache everything locally on the 2GB microsd card.
    4. Add an offline only mode and an offline per widget mode. Get the reliance on network connections out so we can travel with chumbys when necessary. and prevent stupid crap like the weather channel app disappearing when we have it on our channels.
    Switching to HTML5 will take care of some of this.
    5. Monetize apps. Add a revenue stream for app developers of HTML5 apps to be able to charge for their apps once and share revenue with chumby industries.
    6. Add a tip jar for users to periodically tip developers in addition to be able to charge one time for apps and also charge for updates.

  3. max G Says:

    Thanks for the update, it may often seem like a one way channel but many of us await any news from chumby with baited breath, partly as we expect continious improvement froma product but also as there are now a number of promised “updates that remain undelivered” the easy access to external content seems to diminish at every turn and as for chumby still providing a window on our “favourite parts of the net” its not quite such a sunlit window onto beautifull rolling fields of bountiful free roaming content but more a murky look through a frosted screen ……. however it doesnt have to be this way, there is so much free content you could provide and the secret is that in business the more attractive you make your access to contect the more customers are attracted to your product ( and the more attractive you will make your platform to partners and therefore your licencing and revenue generation options ) people rarely buy a tv becuase they want to look at a glass and plastic black LCD panel no matter how wellits designed or cost effective its electronics and foeture set is, they buy one ( no surprise here ) as they want to use it to watch TV…. and this is where i believ you should take the chumby, if soemone saw one in bestbuy on the shelf ( or here in the UK in currys/dixons) what right now would they see that they would really want to have…. however if they see XBMC or Media portal ( other open source Platforms ) theysee masses of content these guys dont have topay toshow the weather channel, they have movie trailers for free, they can aggregate rss feeds, stream internet radio ( usually including the BBC national broadcasters channels ) and crucially provide access to see much of the content that people have these days, both online ( picasa, Hulu, spotify Have you checked out how attractive FRame channel can be these days ) and Vitally the local content on most peoples network ….. ( upnp photos, mp3’s even dvb-t TV content from stuff like dvblogic etc ) If there is no simple way to access network content like mp3’s that every windows7 or mac or Nas supports, i think you will find more and more users switching off rather than switching on to chumby, I have an old android phone that now just sits propped up like a photoframe that does far more than chumby ever even promised but i WISH my chum CHumby could do the key parts of this so the old phone could be junked and wouldnt need too. fundamentally fix the stuff that stops working, better it with new providers ( media portal weather stuff shows radar views and everything for free ) even if its add funded and look at making the chumby more valuble and attractive straight out of the box eg an auto loaded set of content based on the geographic region …..
    We love Chumby dont let him starve of content please let him grow.

  4. Mike Says:

    So when will there be a proper blog post detailing the upcoming Chumby 8. I’m disappointed over the lack of an announcement on here after it was unveiled in CES.

  5. I just learned of Chumby from a talk given by Cory Doctorow. After hunting around the web site for the info that would make me want to buy it, I was quite disappointed.

    Give me some technical specifications. Oh some of these items can be guessed at but I really don’t want to have to guess … I want to know what Chumby is committed to deliver.

    Start with some pictures; front, back, left, right. Is there a wall-wart? Show it!
    What is the screen size, technology, resolution?
    Dimensions? Weight? Is it bigger than a breadbox or smaller than a matchbox?
    Is the screen a touch-screen?
    Does it have speakers? How much power?
    Does it have a headphone jack?
    Does it have a microphone jack?
    Does it use batteries? If so, are they user replaceable? Are they rechargeable?
    Does it have an Ethernet port?
    Does it use WiFi? If so, which versions?
    Does it do VPN?

    If I’m developing an app for it, how does Flash use the touch-screen?

    This should be info that you know in your sleep. Just type it onto a web page to satisfy us total nerds.

    Good luck with your products.



  6. mike breen Says:

    hope to get behind the (chumby)8 ball

  7. GaryQ Says:

    You folks didn’t fix the NOAA weather app and it’s months later since the weather channel app went bye-bye. Many of us bought this device for a decent weather solution and the apps provided are very poor. The NOAA app would be great if the data was correct. It’s been displaying the wrong temp for months now and no fix.

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