Cable Show 2011: Pace, Chumby Bring Internet Apps to TV

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Set-top maker Pace has paired up with Chumby, a developer of software for Internet-connected devices, to let cable operators deliver TV apps for Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and potentially dozens of other services.

Chumby CEO Derrick Oien said the company has been working on TV-specific applications for the last nine months. The focus is on enabling access non-video applications, such as music, photo sharing, news, weather and other information.

"We are really bringing the other Internet to the TV," Oien said.

Chumby on Pace set-top

Pace and Chumby's joint demo at the Cable Show will include applications for Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Reuters news, Photobucket, Mapquest and AccuWeather.

The Chumby platform can work on a variety of low-powered, memory-constrained environments, according to Oien. Its initial development is focused on the Adobe Flash Platform for TV, also known as Stagecraft.

The Pace set-top with the Chumby-enabled apps are in a prototype phase, with commercial units targeted to be available before the end of 2011.

Chumby also has deals in the pipeline with two TV manufacturers (which Oien declined to name). While the company has more than 1,500 apps in its network, about 50 are TV-centric at this point, Oien said.
Oien identified Yahoo's Connected TV offering as among competitors in the space. "Where we stand out from everyone else is, we have a history of developing for constrained devices," he said.

Chumby will have some "nominal branding" included as part of the solution offered to cable operators and consumer-electronics companies.

"Ultimately, when you look at the whole ecosystem, MSOs are key part there," Oien said. "If you want to get scale, you have to go to the guys who control the screens."

Investors in San Diego-based Chumby include Avalon Ventures, JK&B Capital, Masthead Venture Partners and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The company, which has 33 employees, has created multiple devices including the eponymous Chumby for streaming Internet content.