Akimbo Killing Hardware?

Om Malek reports that Akimbo will be killing their hardware line and that current customers will given three months of free service before it’s turned off. Guess what I won’t bother reviewing this month (see above).

In lieu of set-top box services, Akimbo will focus on their software and web products going forward. Akimbo has offered Windows MCE support for some time (though also discontinued) and recently introduced a XP/Vista VOD software client in collaboration with Roxio. They will continue to license their interface and content to AT&T Homezone and seek out additional partners. And that’s probably the key to real money and their survival.

This move doesn’t really surprise me. Akimbo had the unfortunate luxury of being a little too early to the party and without a notable retail presence. But what really hurt them in finding a large customer base (and likely Moviebeam now and Vudu later) is the pricing scheme. Akimbo charged upfront for hardware, in addition to a monthly service fee, plus fees for premiere content. Ouch.

Om wonders how current customers might respond:

My biggest concern is that company’s user base might feel a little cheated. I asked Frank, aren’t you leaving them high and dry? “It’s a risk, and the simple truth is that we wrestled with this for a long time,â€? he acknowledged.

Folks in their forums don’t seem to be taking it too well…

What I find disappointing supposing that this is true is that we had to find out from outside sources instead of from Akimbo. Why they didn’t send out emails or display a message on the box about this decision

This is crap! If you get rid of the boxes then I DEMAND MY $100.00 BACK and A REFUND OF THE CURRENT MONTH

UPDATE: I checked in with my Akimbo PR contact. I’ll be exchanging my review box for a review account of the new software. She had this to say in regards to current box customers:

You are correct that Akimbo is discontinuing the RCA Akimbo Player. As part of its strategy to be on many platforms, Akimbo is making the Akimbo Service available on the TV through a range of partnerships, and will discontinue service to all RCA Akimbo Players beginning on Aug. 1, 2007. Akimbo will continue to provide the Akimbo Service to these players through July 31, 2007 at no monthly charge. Customers who recently purchased a RCA Akimbo Player will also receive a credit. RCA Akimbo Player customers will all receive a $25 credit to try the Akimbo PC Service.

4 thoughts on “Akimbo Killing Hardware?”

  1. Actually, I did get an email this morning letting me know.

    I’m so glad I bought not only the box, but a lifetime subscription.

  2. Guess the tags didn’t come through — the second line was sarcastic, in case it wasn’t obvious.

  3. I would think this would make a good takeover target because the idea makes sense. It wouldn’t make sense for a content provider, but a service provider like TiVo?

    Let’s say TiVo takes them over. Grandfather the Akimbo subscribers in and set up a nice pricing deal to lure Akimbo subscribers over to subscribing for TiVo.

    Arguably TiVo could use some VOD technology in the back end (especially for those of us on Series3 boxes with no VOD options other than Amazon Unbox) and Akimbo fits the bill.

    I guess time will tell.

  4. It would be nice to see Akimbo content on TiVo. However, I believe Akimbo uses WMV9/VC-1 for their codec. That means only the Series3 has a decoder that can handle it – and then only if it is enabled in a software updated. (Not used right now.) Series2 boxes only handle MPEG-2, so they’d be locked out – or Akimbo would need to encode their content in MPEG-2 as well, like Unbox is doing.

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