In a surprising move today, Boxee has rebranded its flagship set-top box from Boxee TV to simply “Cloud DVR,” GigaOm reports.
The change is a clear effort to focus on the $99 device’s most unique feature: storing unlimited television recordings on Boxee’s servers. Boxee is also adding a new free tier to its Cloud DVR service, which makes the device’s core feature usable (albeit in a very basic way) for people averse to any sort of monthly fees. Now you’ll have access to five hours of DVR playback and 90 days of storage without paying a dime instead of paying $10 a month for the unlimited Cloud DVR.
Boxee believes the rebrand will help its set-top box stand out from other media players from Roku and Apple, GigaOm notes. That’s probably a wise move — as I mentioned in my review, the Cloud DVR simple didn’t hold a candle to existing media players. It was slow and surprisingly buggy at times. And even though the Cloud DVR feature is cool in theory, it’s not as easy to use as typical DVRs (for example, you can’t fast-forward or rewind content easily, and you can’t pause live TV).
The rebrand will likely help Boxee side-step much of the negative press around the initial Boxee TV launch. Aside from my review and Popular Science‘s (both incredibly negative), there aren’t any other in-depth reviews of the Boxee TV online. That’s because Boxee still hasn’t kicked off its official review program even though we’re now five months past the device’s launch.
In a conversation around my review in December, Avner Ronen, Boxee’s founder and chief executive, mentioned that the company was purposefully waiting on the review program until all of the device’s bugs were ironed out. With the rebrand, I have a feeling we’ll finally see more reviews rolling out soon.
It helps that “Cloud DVR” reviews will be ranked completely differently from Boxee TV reviews on search engines. Having both scathing Boxee TV reviews on the very first Google search page probably didn’t help sales much (Boxee hasn’t discussed any sales figures yet). I also noticed that neither negative review is on the first page of Google searches for “Cloud DVR” or “Boxee Cloud DVR.”
Boxee hasn’t yet responded to my requests for comment, and without hearing its side of the story, I don’t want to declare anything truly malicious. But it’s hard not to notice just how much the rebrand helps Boxee when it comes to wiping away negative publicity.