Let’s face it. TV 2.0 has rapidly gelled from a sci-fi concept into a fully-functional platform. Companies left, right, above and below are now crawling out of the woodwork with revamped business models and offering innovative tools that have caused us to supplant our normal viewing habits.
While months back, I discussed the rise of cellular television, a company like Instant Media is one of those upstarts that’s instead gunning for your PC desktops and laptops with new DVR-style software that it hopes will take things to another level. “The company’s actually been working at this for about two and a half years,” explains Andy Leak, CEO of the Palo Alto-based Instant Media. “We’ve had a team of engineers building an infrastructure and a platform for internet TV, and we’ve also had a legal team creating patent protections around the unique things that we’ve invented. This is basically a suite of technology—it’s free software that turns your PC into a DVR.”
But unlike most streaming video models flooding the broadband channels, IM’s eponymous product offers something slightly different. “We’re using a caching model,” Leak says. “So, rather than a streaming video model—where the video’s coming at you real-time over the Internet, we’re using a cache model. That means we download it onto your hard drive and you play it off your hard drive. And the reason why that matters is this is the only way you’re going be able to deliver a high-definition quality picture over broadband using the caching technique that we have.”
While this statement is somewhat disputable, the new HD software nevertheless deserves notice, as it’s been Instant Media’s labor of love since the company was started in 2004 by Buy.com founder Scott Blum. But Leak–a software veteran himself whose resume is highlighted by stints at Oracle and his own software design firm Flypaper–is the first to admit that caching models have been explored, just not enough. “There are other examples of caching models,” he concedes. “It’s not that it’s something that others haven’t tried, but it’s not a dominant way to deliver video today. It’s not widely used. The reason why is there’s a lot of logistics involved–delivering large media files and dealing with the piracy issues associated with downloading files onto your desktop.”
But where problems lie, Leak believes IM has the solution to benefit all parties involved. “We think we’re the first company that has really done the packaging to make it very easy for advertisers and for content providers and for consumers,” he says. “So, we’re focused on this new style of video delivery—cached media. And we think the audience for this is going to be people you care about: [those] watching blogger-forum shows and who want to watch it full-screen on their laptop and eventually on their flat-screen television.”
While the software currently boasts over 15,000 registered users, Instant Media is sweetening the deal by offering two IM-exclusive shows to leverage their existing content and promote the benefits of the product. First, there’s Buy TV, a 30-minute weekly show which also offers technology reviews and product features and interactive links for info and commerce. Then, there’s Rocketboom, a daily 5-minute videocast that that disseminates commentary on news and Internet culture, which currently receives 250,000 daily downloads.