Yahoo! Buys Meedio

yahootv.jpgThis past Tuesday, Yahoo! announced their purchase of technology from Meedio who make software for Entertainment Center PC’s. I’ve been eyeing Meedio for a while now and was planning on using their flagship “Meedio Essentials” application for an HTPC that I’m planning on building this summer. You may also remember some older posts about Jon’s HTPC. This is the software he uses to power his beast of a entertainment center pc (I’m hoping he’ll speak up in the comments).

This purchase could go a few different ways depending on what Yahoo! does with it. They didn’t flat out buy the company, they only bought the technology. Does this mean they’re going to integrate it into something they’re already working on? Yahoo Go has had a “Personalize Your TV” demo site up for a little while now. I can only assume that this is built with the technology they acquired from Meedio. There are still quite a few unanswered questions though. The great thing about Meedio is that is was very customizable. Hopefully Yahoo, trying to keep users inside the Yahoo network, doesn’t cripple that customization which has made Meedio a great piece of software. When Yahoo purchased Konfabulator several months ago they pretty much left it as it was and just made it available for free. With Konfabulator though, it’s more along the lines of Yahoo’s primary business – the web. Meedio doesn’t really fit into that category.

Yahoo has been moving more towards TV in the past year though. They announced a partnership with Tivo back in November allowing you to record shows on your Tivo from Yahoo TV. I wonder how this new Meedio relationship will fit into that. I think Yahoo definitely wants to get into the TV video market, I just wonder how they’re going to mesh all this stuff together, or if they’ve even thought that far ahead.

I think the best case scenario with this is Yahoo not changing much with Meedio as it stands now (maybe just throw the little “Y!” icon on there somewhere) and giving it away for free a la Konfabulator, or Google’s Picasa purchase. That way when I get to building an entertainment PC this summer there’s one piece that I won’t be paying for.

2 Comments

gravatar Jon

Sure I’ll post, and I’m sorry it took me so long.

Essentially, I think Scott nailed it already. Meedio is (in my opinion) the absolute best Home Theatre PC front-end out there. The major reason it’s the best is because it’s so customizable. It requires some work to get it up and running, but then it will do all sorts of things, and no two installations necessarily need to look, sound, or perform the same. The big question is will Yahoo maintain this same overall focus on open-endedness? Or will they try to make it an easy installation that works out of the box for Joe-consumer but doesn’t have nearly the same amount of options or ability to modify? I don’t know. All I do know is that I’m not “upgrading” for a long time, if ever. I’m just going to sit back with my Meedio 1.41 release and see what other people think of the new Yahoo version. I think it’s only in beta right now. Who knows, it could be a great product.

There are a couple of things I would like to say about Meedio in general. First, I’m not mad at them at all for selling. Meedio started as a completely free program called MyHTPC years back. The guy that was developing the then-free MyHTPC got together with some other home theater PC guys and decided to make the Meedio company and now charge money for the software. There was a lot of grumbling when this happened from MyHTPC users, but with the extra money coming in they were able to expand their resources and they made GIANT improvements to the software. I gladly paid money for all the hard work and improvements they put into it. It didn’t take long for the improvements to be noticed and most of the grumbling stopped. Then they purchased “Housebot” (home automation software) from a guy named Scott. Meedio had good intentions of integrating Housbot with Meedio. Unfortunately, their resources were only enough to work on Meedio, so Housebot sat dormant for (I think) years. This created lots of angry customers that used the Housebot software before it was purchased by Meedio. That brings us to today. Now they have this awesome product (Meedio) that a few people have put their lives into developing. They get a good offer from Yahoo, and they sold. I think it’s what any other person trying to make a living would have done as well. And I think that the same Meedio people are now going to be working at Yahoo to continue development. They simply sold their ownership and all or most of their creative control. The thing I was happy about is that Meedio really did (and always has) gone out of their way to listen to their customers and make them happy. Even though the downloads were disabled as soon as the sale was official, they have been sending personal download links to anyone that owns the software and requests one. This allows users that didn’t have the most current version to upgrade even though the links were gone. I think they also removed some restrictions on the final release in order to give plug-in developers more breathing room for future development. That was certainly nice. The nicest thing they did in my opinion was that they went out of their way NOT to sell Housebot to Yahoo with the rest of their products. Instead they sold it back to the original creator (Scott) who can now continue to develop it. They also apologized for ignoring it, and re-iterated that they originally had good intentions. Again, that was out of their way to make their customers happy. So yes, I’m nervous about what will happen to Meedio at Yahoo. But in the end you just have some really nice guys, who really listened to their users, made an awesome product, and eventually decided to make some additional money off the product. I can’t really blame them for that. I wish more software had as good of a development team as Meedio. Good luck Meedio, congrats to Scott for getting Housebot back, and good luck to Pablo and the team now at Yahoo.

–Jon

gravatar Techory.com - Regular Ramblings About Technology » Building an Entertainment PC: The Guts

[…] Software: For the software that runs on this thing I’m still playing around with a lot of stuff. I’m planning on going with Meedio which was recently purchased by Yahoo to control the HTPC portion. I’ve got Sage TV for the Tivo-like functionality, and probably some other odds and ends to be figured out later. There is still a lot of fine tuning to do with the software before this thing is ready to roll. I’ll post again down the road a bit when I’m able to get all that worked out. Technology […]

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