Just as we’re hearing about the new ‘Vudu’ set-top box for broadband video, comes word, via Om Malik, that established player Akimbo is pulling put of that market and discontinuing the RCA Akimbo Player. Service to the boxes will be discontinued as of August 1, 2007. Existing users will receive the next few months of service free, and those who just recently purchased the hardware may receive a credit. There will also be a $25 credit for all users to try the Akimbo PC Service.
Akimbo is changing their approach. The hardware angle has never caught on. Instead, they now offer Akimbo as a service for Windows XP and Vista, via a software client. They’re also pursuing licensing of their service to other STB makers – and it is currently available on the AT&T Homezone unit. While I’d love to see Akimbo content offered on TiVo, I won’t hold my breath. Akimbo has always used the WMV9/VC-1 codec – and only the Series3 has a decoder for that format. (Yet to be enabled in software.) Akimbo would have to do as Amazon has done with Unbox – produce a special MPEG-2 encoded version of the content for Series2 TiVos. Possible, but I don’t know how likely I’d consider it.
Either way, I don’t think this is a good omen for Vudu, no matter how clever their technology is and how many licenses they have.
(I picked this up via ZatzNotFunny.)