ZeeVee Recasts Zinc Video Browser for the Cloud—and for a New Generation of Internet-Connected TVs

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including Zinc on their Internet-connected video devices. Third, it could earn affiliate fees on content purchased through the Zinc interface. (Pandora, the Internet radio service, does something similar already, collecting affiliate revenue from Apple every time users hear a song on Pandora and then clicks through to the iTunes store to buy the song for download.)

ZeeVee’s main rival in the big-screen browser space, Boxee, is probably looking at similar revenue opportunities. But Boxee can look forward to one additional revenue stream: sales of the Boxee Box, which is being manufactured by D-Link and is due out sometime this year. Odryna says ZeeVee seriously considered building something similar—a “ZincBox”—but its executives concluded, after talks with industry players, that consumers don’t need yet another gadget in their living rooms. (And in any case, the company went that route once before with the ZvBox, and discovered some of the pitfalls.)

“There are already Internet connections in Blu-ray players and cable and satellite set-top boxes and game consoles,” not to mention the Roku Player and Apple TV, says Odryna. In addition, Intel is pushing its new Atom processor as a way to make dozens more consumer-electronics devices Internet-video-ready. “So why would you approach this with yet another box?” Odryna asks.

Boxee is “doing some great stuff,” he says, and he calls it the only company that seems to fully share ZeeVee’s vision of a content-agnostic ecosystem for Internet video. But the difference between the companies, he says, is that “In the Boxee world, they view themselves as being the operating system for that one device in the living room, whereas we have a view that there are going to be lots of these platforms. It’s going to be a tough war to fight. But the ground we would rather hold is just being the connection point.”

Odryna won’t say how many users Zinc has attracted to date. He simply calls it “quite a nice little following,” considering that ZeeVee hasn’t spent any money to market the application. For both Boxee and ZeeVee, he says, the current challenge is to recruit a larger user base. “Once people start down one path, they will stay on that path, unless we do something that upsets them so greatly that they go over to Boxee, or vice versa. So part of our job in the near term is to start to build that loyal following.” And not make any big mistakes.

Here’s a ZeeVee video introducing the Zinc Beta 5 software:

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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