If online video is ever going to take over the world, it’s going to have to find a way to let people know what it’s offering and how to find it. Right now, it’s a kind of hunt-and-peck ordeal, which is something that Apple must have figured it out too.
It just purchased Matcha.tv, an iOS app that provided a way to know what was offered by Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and for purchase through iTunes and Amazon. It could manage your selections, give recommendations and connect with social networks so you could see what your video-addled pals were up to, and also tap into information about what your large cable operator was offering.
Writing about Matcha.tv earlier, Venture Beat’s Tom Chereddar said, “while I’d like to avoid the standard comparison with the old printed TV Guide publication, that’s pretty much exactly what the app is — a tablet-optimized TV Guide for streaming content.”
I write this in past tense because Matcha.tv ceased to be in May, but as Venture Beat reports, it’s now a part of the Apple universe, purchased apparently for about as much money as is in the tip jar at your local deli. I exaggerate, but apparently it was not a major event for Apple.
While it existed, Venture Beat says Matcha.tv was in the top rung of entertainment apps at the Apple Store, and so, it would seem to suggest, it will be back in some form, pretty soon.
“One of the biggest issues for those of us who’ve dropped overpriced cable subscriptions in favor of watching television over the Net is keeping track of where a la carte programming is located,” writes Dwight Zimmerman who pens a tech blog for the Houston Chronicle. “The primary benefit of cable is convenience. Cable packages are organized, and it’s relatively easy to find what you’re looking for. But when you ditch that service, you must forage on your own, often from many different sources.”
Apple’s purchase makes people put one and one together and conclude that the acquisition could dovetail nicely with its AppleTV and all thing TV-ish. Apple says it has big plans in that space, but there hasn’t been much to add to that except that (even in its supposedly weaken state) Apple tends make outsized splashes.
The trouble is, if Apple uses a version of Matcha.tv’s service, it won’t likely list competitors, and that gives it limited use. Likewise, Boxee was on the way to doing the same kind of video information aggregating, but it was acquired by Samsung, an aggressive player in the smart TV realm that without much doubt is going to be the content story of the coming year. Samsung, it’s worth noting, has a new set of commercials out that are very clearly positioning themselves for the OTT future. Now if only we can figure out how to see it.