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ZeeVee Podcast: Efficient HD Video Distribution… And a Pretty Cool Video Browser Too

As promised, I finally had a chance to sit down with my old boss for a podcast (click here). Vic Odryna, CEO and Co-founder of ZeeVee, shared with me the company’s current product line up, vision for the future, and cleared up a few misconceptions. Some highlights:

• The Zv150 is indeed a real product that is just beginning to ship. At $999, it is targeted at high-end homes and is being sold through the CEDIA market. Like the original ZvBox, it takes VGA output from your computer and turns it into a QAM channel that any coax-connected HDTV can tune, but it also adds component video inputs from any source such as DVRs, DVD players, Blu-ray, TiVo, etc.
• The original $499 ZvBox 100 is not dead, as some media outlets have reported. While the focus of the company has moved upstream to the high-end consumer and commercial markets, the ZvBox is still kicking and has gotten a firmware facelift to make it easier to install and use.
• The $2500 Zv250 is the rack-mounted, stackable, version of ZeeVee’s novel HD video distribution technology. In our podcast, Vic shares with me the type of customers buying this product and why it is such a “game-changer” in the commercial market.
• Vic shares with me the history and strategy behind Zinc, the company’s Internet video aggregation browser. He also does an impromptu comparison to rival Boxee.

ZeeVee is learning a business lesson that has reverberated throughout just about every major industry in the past twenty years, from retail, to manufacturing, to hi-tech— it’s not easy being in the middle. Books have been written about the “collapse of the middle”, a concept that describes why companies are often forced to choose whether to serve the low end of the market with cheap, high volume products, or go high-end with premium, low volume products. Besides being a bit tricky to install, ZeeVee’s orginal ZvBox was too expensive for average consumers (as compared to Roku’s $99 Netflix box for example), and also lacked some key attributes (1080 support, component video inputs) to be attractive or useful to the high-end of the market. ZeeVee’s move to the “extremes”, a free Internet video browser on one hand, and a line-up of powerful, but expensive HD video distribution products on the other, allows it to better align it capabilities to the needs of these separate audiences, and to a degree also hedge its bets as the online and HD video markets evolve.

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