Battling Conventional Telecom and Media Providers
Yesterday I prevailed in my little struggle with AT&T over saving money on our landline telephone. Since I was unable to fully downgrade our service using online account management, I connected to the site as a potential new customer so I could engage the online, real-time chat person/robot. When she/it responded with an oh-so-charming “how can I help you today”, I hit her with the query: “I want to fully downsize my account to the bare minimum.” Her response: “I do not have the resources to help you with this issue – please call ……” Nice. Not having the “resources” is an obfuscatory way of saying “it’s not gonna be that easy sucker.”
Cable Alternatives – Online Video Programming
As I continue to explore other downsizing options in the media provider world, cable TV is a prime target. Today I learned that Boxee is about to release a Windows version of its free media center software. Boxee has garnered a lot of happy followers in the Apple and Linux worlds because Boxee makes it easy to: (a) gather and organize all of your video content and content providers in one location; (b) connect you to a variety of sources of online video/TV programming; and (most important) (c) connect your PC to your TV (using an HDMI cable) for high quality playback of your content/streaming video programming.
In other words, Boxee is one of those tools that can be a cable-killer. The key to using a service like Boxee is the ability to watch high quality programming (including HD) on your big screen, using an easy to connect PC. According to this story from Business Week, some Boxee users are indeed going cable-free.
I have been keeping track of free online TV programming services for my baby boomer friends over at Go To Retirement. I will be adding Boxee to the list as soon as the Windows version is released in June. Boxee is free for users although I expect that could change for some content. The only downside is that due to a market share battle with Hulu, Boxee users have only limited, lower quality access to Hulu content. That’s OK as long as you are comfortable using more than one free, cable-killing video service. I am happy to do that if it is user-friendly and provides HD content. I love that HD and I am willing to pay for it if necessary.
So the technology vs. cost battle continues. If we are smart about it, I think consumers willing to adapt to what is new and not cling to what is old will be the winners.