In the battle for place shifting dominance, Orb Networks gained a deep pocketed and more importantly pipe owning partner. Sprint. I have previously expressed doubts about their business model, and wondered aloud about how they would go forward when rivals are teaming up with handset makers. Orb, which has received thumbs up from Russell, is now teaming up with carriers in its effort to get more traction. Ted, who is Veep of operations at Orb, accused me, a tad too fast I must say, about being biased against Orb. Not true! I am going to get into a deep discussion with Ted later and report back. [ Ted … contrary to popular belief, I don’t stay up 24 hours.]
The service for now is being rolled out for Sprint’s DSL customers. This is not a gigantic operation like say, SBC, but it is still a sizable client base – about 500,000 or so. A few more deals like this and Orb can build-up enough traction to ward off competition, not from just its peers but also from much larger incumbents. My biggest concern is that most place-shifting start-ups face an uphill climb. Earlier this year I checked out a set-top box for the IPTV market that had already built out these features. At a recent cable show in San Francisco, I found that many set-top box makers were showing off rudimentary place-shifting features, and I guess in a year would be able to match full featured services like Orb.