Why isn't Microsoft doing this?
One of the few things I've always excelled at in life is blowing money on frivolous things. Here's the Roku Soundbridge that crushed my will-power. Roku is a company that I never heard of prior to last week and having a wireless media player wasn't something that I had even really considered. Yes, they looked cool, but I listen to XM most of the time so I didn't really see a need for it. But more and more I've been listening to stuff like Phil Hendrie's show via MP3 because I'm not home when it's on. Sure, the new XM (like the http://www.xmradio.com/ ) model's have TiVO like ability, which would address this need of mine, but something made me opt to buy a Roku. And that would be? THIS! Yes, it has it's own API and you can write your own software for it. But don't take my word for it:
Software Development Kit
The Roku HD1000 is based on the Roku OS, an open platform that includes Roku’s advanced media APIs and the Linux Kernel. Using the Roku OS, developers can quickly craft innovative and custom applications for the Roku HD1000 that take advantage of our TV-centric user interface elements, network and memory card access, MP3, MPEG, windowing system, graphics library, and other media engines.
The SDK is now available for download. Instructions for installing and using the SDK as well as an API reference are included in the zip file.
Download the HD1000 SDK version 1.5.18 (39MB)
That's right, Roku decided that they could make their product more attractive by providing an API. The implications are obvious - the more cool stuff that's out there for the Soundbridge - the more people might want to buy it instead of a competing product. So they package up fairly common functionality in a killer form factor (I can't believe I just used that 'form factor' in a sentence) and provided a SDK and viola - they just really distinguished themselves from every other network media device. And the OS is Linux - which sort of bugs me. Not because I don't like Linux or have any sort of issue with Open Source - it's just that this is precisely the sort of thing Microsoft should be doing with some of their products - LIKE PORTABLE MEDIA CENTER and SPOT. Imagine how cool the Soundbridge would be with say --------- the common language runtime on it? And my guess is that via Mono - it's doable. And if so, then I've just come full circle and more of less negated my whole point in the first place.
But not really. Because the CLR is definitely available on SPOT and Portable Media Center - you just can't get to it right now. Sure, we will someday - but I wouldn't have ordered a Soundbridge tonight if they advertised it and said “SDK available on future versions of product in the near future”
I know I moan about this issue a lot - but it's only because I think Microsoft is standing there watching sitting slow balls fly by. I mean how frigging cool would it be if something like a Soundbridge already had the CLR on it and some VS.NET templates that you could just load up and start cranking away on? I know I'd probably be willing to pay another $100.00 or so just for the convenience. And yes, being able to write your own stuff for apps like this is a big deal. Since the 'form factor' is so cool and since the thing is made to be conspicously mounted on your wall - imagine having your favorite blog posts scroll through - or news headlines, or instant messages - or whatever else. Combine this with something like ebay alerts and it would kick even more a33. Would that make this a cooler product? Of course it would. Would functionality like that get people's attention? Hell yes it would.
Well, it should be here in a few days - hopefully I can get Mono on it - and if not, hopefully the API is pretty flexible