So I’ve spent the last week or so playing with the new Boxee Box. I must admit even though the initial reviews I read were less than stellar, I was really excited to see the latest incarnation of one of my favorite tech projects of the last decade.
I’ve been with XBMC and Boxee since the beginning first on an old Xbox, then an Apple TV and it seemed like the Boxee Box finally was going to make this homebrew magic into a mainstream star.
That’s a long preamble and I’m sure you can guess my experience wasn’t a positive one.
First let me say that the D-Link hardware looks amazing. The cube is small, quirky and makes for a big visual upgrade from an Xbox.
But due to some really premature software, this is where the love affair ended. The warning signals started right at boot with wifi troubles. That really was just the beginning. From a web browser that ignores any link to a new target window (you have no idea how many sites that breaks), to apps that don’t work… this project is nowhere near ready for primetime.
Ultimately, I had to rebox the Boxee and take it back because it doesn’t even replicate the functionality of my old Xbox with XBMC. You can’t play music without using your TV. That really was the final straw as I use XBMC to stream music all day using the web interface to control it.
So why am I posting all of this here. It all centers around the idea of when to release software. It seems like a big setback to a great project to rush something to market and ultimately disappoint consumers.
One of the first thing that comes to mind broken features. I know when we have new ideas, we think about packing them into our releases as soon as possible. I think it’s important to constantly temper those thoughts by making sure that we test, test, test and make sure features are solid.
In the case of the Boxee Box, it promises the moon and leaves a patchwork of unfinished or poorly implemented features. I can’t help but think it would be better adopted with a stable, smaller feature set and a clear roadmap available from management.
I think that’s an important lesson for all of us who release software.