RokuPosted: November 16, 2003
Read an article this morning in the NY Times about a new startup named Roku. They build a media player targeted to folks who own flat panel HDTVs. Basically the player allows you to plug a flat panel HDTV into your home network to play mp3’s, share photos, etc. The user interface seems pretty intuitive. The cool feature of the system is it turns your flat panel TV into a picture frame. In addition to being able to display your own art work, they also sell art packs including classic paintings, great photography and the always popular aquarium screen saver.
No question these guys are going to be competing against TiVo and some goliath companies like Sony. However, they have an interesting spin. Their only targeting flat panel TV buyers right now (definitely the high end) – – tempting them with strategically placed point of purchase displays in high-fi shops. And they’re built on top of Linux but unlike TiVo , they have an open API. The terminal prompt on a 50″ flat panel TV could be too tempting to pass up for the hobbiest engineer! In all seriousness, third part apps (most of which will probably be free initially) could be what sets Roku apart from the other consumer electronic makers and allows them to carve out a niche in a super competitive market. Or be acquired :-).