Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Goodbye Old Friend – Snapstream BeyondTV Withers on the Vine


As I mentioned last year, Snapstream, maker of HTPC software BeyondTV and Enterprise TV Search Service changed their focus more and more towards the enterprise side of their business over the past several years.  During this time a continual defection of HTPC enthusiasts moved away from BeyondTV to other alternatives for various reasons whether it was need/want for new features, need for an update to fix an issue or just lack of attention.  I’ve continued to follow along on their forums over this time, but the activity there has almost entirely died out.  So today I have officially removed Snapstream from my web bookmark favorites.

I’ll continue to drop in every couple of months or so just to see if there’s anything new, but for now there just isn’t anything happening there.  Nine times out of ten, when I visit the Snapstream forums I am the only registered forum member there.  Worse is the fact that the number of unregistered, guests is usually less than 20!

Here’s other signs of BeyondTV’s end:

  • The Snapstream.com website page has nothing about BeyondTV on the front page – nothing!  You can select Products and from the drop-down menu BeyondTV is still listed and yes, you can still purchase a copy of BTV if you don’t know any better, but the focus there is obviously the Enterprise – Search product.
  • The last full version update of BeyondTV was BTV 4.9 back in November of 2008.  The last build release with any update of any kind was 4.9.2 in early June 2009.  Release Notes of BeyondTV
  • An excerpt from a forum post last year posted by Snapstream:
  • “There have been a number of threads on the forums and emails directed to me recently about the future of Beyond TV and where SnapStream is headed.
    As such, it seems like a good time to clarify our position going forward for consumer and beta releases.

    What's SnapStream's focus these days?
    Our focus (by which we mean "what we are working on now") is on polishing our technology to work in the enterprise space in support of our Television Search Appliance. In terms of current new development, this means a new backend tailored to expandability/reliability and writing a ground up new api.

    As a consumer user, where does that that leave you?
    Beyond TV is a mature DVR product that provides a simple user interface to a powerful recording engine. We still believe that if Beyond TV's feature set meets your needs, you will be a happy user. However, if you are not happy with Beyond TV as is, it means that you will probably not be excited about the changes from our upcoming work…”

  • A dialog on Twitter between a BeyondTV user and the Rakesh Agrawal, the founder of Snapstream tells us that no updates are coming:

User: “@RakeshAgrawal I want to ask you straight out - are we ever going to see an update to BeyondTV? Win7 and HD-PVR are driving me bonkers here.

Reply from Rakesh: Sorry for the late reply... The Beyond TV update you're looking for probably isn't coming. Our focus = TV search.

This conversation was last month.  Obviously this isn’t anything all that new – Snapstream has openly said over time that their focus was the Enterprise Search product but they always hinted that they still might offer some “trickle-down” updates to BeyondTV and they never ruled out returning back to BeyondTV updates some day.  But now it seems Snapstreams Search product is doing well enough they have no incentive to return to the consumer HTPC business.  That leaves names like Microsoft MediaCenter, SageTV, and MythTV as the three primary DVR-capable HTPC products.  It’s sort of sad for me to say goodbye, but I’m doing that today.  Snapstream thus far continues to provide guide data for BeyondTV as well as some Q&A type of support on the forums.  Beyond that it’s a “mature” program in their eyes that will get no attention.

Good luck to Snapstream as they continue to thrive with the Enterprise Search product.  And goodbye old friend – thanks for the HTPC memories BeyondTV.