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Qplay Puts a Personal Spin on Internet TV

Qplay Puts a Personal Spin on Internet TV

There's so much to watch on the Web and so little time to figure out what's worthy. Qplay is a new effort to help collate personal content collections -- called "Qs" -- based on interests or friends' recommendations. The system requires an iPad, an app, a TV adapter and a cloud service. The brain child of TiVo's cofounders, Qplay is being positioned as a cable-TV alternative.

By Katherine Noyes
02/26/14 10:50 AM PT

TiVo cofounders Mike Ramsay and James Barton on Tuesday launched Qplay, a brand-new company that aims to bring a new level of personalization to Internet TV.

Comprised of an iPad app, a TV adapter and a dedicated cloud service, Qplay is designed to let users curate Internet video from across the Web and create "Qs," the company's name for personalized and shareable streams of content. The iPad app is used for discovery, playback and control, while the cloud service manages and accesses content.

The Qplay TV adapter -- which is smaller than a deck of cards -- is now available to early adopters at qplay.co for a limited-time discount price of US$49.

No Netflix or Hulu Plus

Qplay users can create what the company calls "personalized Qs," which are virtual, on-the-fly channels around their favorite interests. Social Qs, on the other hand, leverage social discovery to bring videos directly to viewers via friends' feeds on social networks, for example.

Qplay Explore

Either way, because content is managed in the cloud, it will continue to play on the TV even if the iPad is shut down or goes to sleep, and it won't drain the iPad's battery.

Qplay now offers content from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter; conspicuously absent from that lineup are Netflix and Hulu Plus. The company does plan to expand its content array over the course of the year, however.

'Qplay Is More Flexible'

Though it's entering an increasingly crowded market already populated by the likes of Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV, Qplay may have a distinct advantage.

"Qplay delivers content in a different way from other streaming devices," the company said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokesperson Tierney Oakes. Specifically, it's "translating channels into apps, and that just isn't scalable."

Because Qs can contain content from multiple sources, "including your friends, Qplay is more flexible and provides a more personalized and entertaining experience," Qplay noted, "and only Qplay gives you the power to publish those Qs, letting you create and share a virtual TV network on-the-fly."

In short, "there are tons of streaming services out there, but you're still searching for content," the company said. "There's no serendipity. That's something Qplay solves."

'Other Players Have a Significant Lead'

Qplay's interface and social features "should be appealing" to users, Brett Sappington, director of research for Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld.

The key, however, is always content, he added.

"If Qplay can get access to interesting or exclusive content, then they have a chance to be a player," Sappington said.

Qplay is one of many streaming boxes expected to reach the market during the next year to compete with industry leaders Roku and Apple TV, he noted.

"Although the personalized channel and second screen interaction provide Qplay with a measure of differentiation, the other players have a significant lead in retail distribution, content partners and consumer awareness," Sappington pointed out.

In addition, "Amazon's anticipated entry into this space will bring new competition from an online industry giant with a recognized brand, advertising network and successful online video service," he said.

'In the Hands of the Content Providers'

Content availability will play a key role in determining Qplay's success, agreed Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst with Tirias Research.

"I'm not really convinced that using a mobile device to stream premium content in the home is going to be the way to go, but there are plenty of people working on it, like Google with Chromecast," he told TechNewsWorld.

"We'll have to see how things pan out," McGregor added, "but it is definitely in the hands of the content developers and providers."


Katherine Noyes is always on duty in her role as Linux Girl, whose cape she has worn since 2007. A mild-mannered journalist by day, she spends her evenings haunting the seedy bars and watering holes of the Linux blogosphere in search of the latest gossip. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.


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