ShowYou—The iPad Social Video Browser That’s Taking On TV

4/13/11Follow @wroush

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use a finger to drag it horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally. The first time you see it, the grid provokes the same kind of “wow” reaction as Flipboard’s page-flipping interface. It’s bound to instantly become ShowYou’s signature UI innovation.

Thirdly, ShowYou almost single-handedly justifies all the work Apple put into AirPlay. This is the technology that allows you to stream music or video from your computer, your iPhone, your iPod Touch, or your iPad to your sound system or your television (assuming you have an Apple TV device). Until recently, the AirPlay feature only worked for Apple’s own apps, such as iTunes. But in March, the company rolled out a software upgrade that allowed third-party developers to build AirPlay support into their own apps. Which means you can sit on your couch and use ShowYou on your iOS device to find cool videos, then throw them over to your big-screen TV to actually watch them. It’s an uncannily smooth experience; it feels far more natural than browsing for videos via the Apple TV’s own YouTube channel.

For Remixation, ShowYou’s launch today is a bet-the-company moment. VodPod, a community site where members collect videos from around the Web into channels reflecting their personal tastes, is chugging along just fine—it has more than a million members and attracts 8 to 10 million unique visitors a month. But Hall says it represents Internet video’s past, not its future.

“Over the last 12 months, we became deeply aware of what was happening with mobile and tablets and connected TVs,” says Hall. In a pivotal meeting last fall the Remixation CEO sat down with co-founders Scott Persinger and Spencer Miles and outside board member Toni Schneider, the CEO of WordPress creator Automattic. The four entrepreneurs concluded that “we had to do something around the tablet and the smartphone,” Hall recounts. “There was a risk that if we just continued to work on the margins on our Web business, we would have no business in five years.”

Building a smartphone or tablet version of VodPod would have been the obvious, easy thing to do. “But Toni pushed us to think about doing it the other way around, and building something specifically for those platforms, rather than shoehorning a product that was built for the Web into a device that isn’t the Web,” Hall says. “That immediately resonated with us. We are big believers that you can’t make products be Swiss Army knives and still have them be useful or fun.”

One other data point figured into the group’s decision. Companies like Boxee and Google had been getting attention for their set-top box technology, which brings Internet video to big-screen TVs. But then, last September, Apple came out with the new version of its own set-top box, Apple TV, and said it intended to open up the device for wireless video sharing. “We came to the conclusion that if AirPlay worked the way Apple said it was going to work, it was going to be way better than Google TV or Boxee,” says Hall. “So if we could do a god job [building a new video sharing app] on the iPad and iPod Touch and iPhone, that would be our path.”

The new product would still be about Internet video, of course—that was the market Remixation knew from VodPod, and the company already had lots of experience with the back-end systems needed to identify videos mentioned on Twitter and Facebook and import them from the Web. But the software would be fundamentally new in that it would be all about … Next Page »

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

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