A Bevy of Boxes

When Akimbo in April announced it was making its video-on-demand service available via PC, it looked like another step backward for delivering the Internet via TV.

The company has struggled to build up its service that lets viewers download programs to TVs using a set-top box and a broadband connection. Shortly before launching its new pc-based version, the company replaced CEO Josh Goldman with former Real Networks exec Thomas Frank.

Akimbo’s difficulties aren’t unique. Disney’s Moviebeam VOD service proved a resounding flop, and was sold to video rental chain Movie Gallery in March for just $10 million after venture investors poured $48.5 million into the company last year.

None of that stopped Apple recently from launching the highly anticipated Apple TV with hopes of finally resolving the technological rift between TV and the Web. The $299 Apple TV box lets consumers purchase shows, movies or other content from iTunes for viewing on TV via a wireless connection.

Not surprisingly, Apple has come up with a sleek, user-friendly answer to the clunky set-top box. But while Apple hastens to add more shows and movies to the iTunes store, cable and satellite operators already offer lots of on-demand programming. And competitors including Netflix, Amazon and Sling Media are exploring ways to deliver digital movies and TV shows to the living room.

But there’s only room for so many boxes on top of the TV.

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