Yes, TiVo co-founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton do think the market has room for yet one more streaming device, albeit one that’s initially focused on delivering a steady stream of personalized, free over-the-top video, and not so much yet on Netflix, HBO Go and other premium-level fare.
Following rumors of a plan and product that surfaced late last year, Qplay uncloaked on Tuesday with a streaming platform that, like the Google Chromecast, relies on small, TV-connected streaming adapter that relies on tablet app (initially for the iPad) that handles the device’s remote control, search and navigations functions.
But rather than building in optimized support for individual services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, Qplay’s initial angle is to make it easier for consumers to stream personalized “Qs” of video to the TV from sources such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Twitter, Vine and Instagram. In a nod to the linear, TV-style model, Qplay’s cloud-based delivery engine allows users to create a “virtual” channel on the-fly and play back a list of curated videos on the TV without interruption.
Ramsay told GigaOm that Qplay is making plans to feature premium OTT video servcies like Netflix and Hulu Plus, and possibly live television, later on.
During what it’s calling an “early adopter phase,” Qplay is bundling its adapter, app and cloud service for a discounted price of $49 at its Web site, but did not announce how it will price those components later. During this early impulse-buying phase, Qplay said it is offering a limited supply, noting that any purchase attempts made after the initial stock runs out will be counted as pre-orders.
Although there’s no DVR involved, Qplay’s founders believe they’ve built the kind of personalized experience and control that they built during their TiVo days.
“With TiVo, Jim and I focused on creating a great consumer experience that put the viewer in control of the video they watched,” said Ramsay, Qplay’s CEO, in a statement. “We’re applying the same focus to Internet video with Qplay and are creating a new kind of consumer experience that exploits the full potential of the Internet to give viewers a unique way to control their video entertainment.”
“The delivery of compelling video experiences to consumers presents some unique and important technical challenges, far beyond those of the broadcast world. At Qplay, we have assembled a great team of engineers from Apple, Google and TiVo,” added Barton, Qplay’s CTO and president.
Qplay, founded in 2012, said its initial funding comes from Redpoint Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
This Qplay video expands on the concept, offering a hint near the end that the company views the product as a potential cord-cutting tool: