Litl Lays Plans for Channel Store to Offer New Kinds of Webbook Content

3/31/10Follow @wroush

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smart digital picture frame that happens to have a keyboard. In view of the fact that the device is simply a vessel for the larger vision, it might only be a matter of time before Litl evolves from an appliance maker into a content company, supplying Litl channels to a range of devices. After all, there’s no particular reason a Mac or Windows laptop couldn’t display the same Flash content designed for the Webbook.

“The reality is that the software experience is the secret sauce,” Litl’s Gardner admitted when I probed on this point. “We haven’t talked too much about the next-generation Litl device, but maybe we should really be thinking about how we can take this experience and deliver it to people in an enjoyable way that doesn’t have to be tied to this physical form factor.”

Freedman agreed, saying he would eventually like to enable Webbook channel developers to “write once, deploy to many.” “I love the concept of being able to build something and know my user base doesn’t have to be specific or local to one device, but that what I’m creating can be experienced across many platforms,” Freedman says, in a not-so-veiled dig at the iPhone/iPad ecosystem.

But first things first—Litl’s current task is simply to get the SDK out the door. “Rolling out an SDK is like rolling out another product,” says Freedman. “The team needs to be built out and the support in place. We’re accompanying the SDK with sample channels and a lot of sample code that developers can customize and redeploy, as well as some amazing documentation, guides, and videos.”

The key SDK component sucking up the time of Freedman’s team is the Webbook simulator, which mimics the behavior of the Webbook on a conventional PC. “The simulator is really important, since we can’t assume that every developer in our community is going to own a Litl, or if they do, that it will be at hand,” says Freedman. “I have one at home, for example, but usually my wife or my son are using it.” Which probably means Litl is doing something right.

The video below is republished by permission from Litl’s developer site, developer.litl.com.

litl: sdk & flash player 10.1 from litl on Vimeo.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • http://litl.com litl_phil

    Thanks for this nice summary of litl’s plans for our channels platform. One comment: the Flash developer community is the largest community of app developers in the world and there’s great interest from that community in our channels platform. So, actually, we would not be surprised to see quite a few community-developed channels on the webbook once Flash 10.1 is released. We also have a great relationship with Adobe about our SDK and channel plans – they totally get it. At a time when certain device manufacturers are pushing HTML5 over Flash, litl’s channels will leverage on this huge Flash dev community. See http://developer.litl.com for more info.

  • Alan Phillips

    How many Litl users are there?

  • Jack

    It will be hard for litl to compete if they continue with their current business model. They have a very niche product that’s relatively expensive. The base iPad is being offered at $499 with access to tons of apps. How can you compete with that? Two companies come to mind when I look at litl: Palm and NeXT. Palm has a great new webOS, but their devices have no advantages over the iPhone. webOS can thrive much better in a company with more extensive resources. NeXT came out with some really hot hardware back in the early days, but they were too expensive and NeXT eventually became a software-only company (and how Steve Jobs returned to Apple). litl is like a combination of these two companies: good service/software ideas, but the device is too expensive. Turning into a software-only company is definitely a good option for them.

  • Bruce Kasrel

    I agree with Jack above, Litl is in for some big issues in light of the iPad. If they are banking on its support of Flash as key differentiator then I don’t see much a future for them. Users do not care what software a website is created with, they just want the functionality. Trust me, every meaningful Flash based site (Hulu, etc.) will create a version for the iPad and users will not care. Unless 100% of all of these passionate Flash developers build for and BUY a litl, I just don’t see a business here with the current price point.

    Everyone knows that Apple’s iPad 2.0 will be less money (you can bet it hits this time next year or earlier) so how can litl survive with a product that is $200 more, has no touch screen, 150K less apps, no local storage, and shorter battery life? I just don’t see support for Flash as that critical in the marketplace.

    I have liked the litl since its launch – great UI and ID. But $700 is WAY too much.

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