There’s no shortage of companies out there whose business model is to package up disparate free content to re-sell to an uneducated public. We’ve seen it with music, movies and now it’s happening with television. The idea is to scrape up all the myriad free TV delivery sites out there, and parcel it all up in an easy interface, so your grandmother would be able to use it.
Rabbit TV is a classic example of the genre. The marketing promises 5000 free Internet TV channels, 50,000 radio stations and a whopping 25,000 free movies, just from plugging a small USB stick into your computer’s USB socket. The company is selling it as a replacement for cable television, and at first glance it looks like a real bargain at just $10.
It doesn’t help that the blurb switches between 9000 and 50000 radio stations, and some versions seem to be $10 in total while others appear to be $10 per year. In fact, it’s an auto-renewing subscription package, so you’ll have to stump up $10 every year to keep using the product. The company’s whole marketing message actually comes over as very tacky, especially when it implies that you can watch almost anything using the USB stick. In reality of course, you’re going to be limited to the free stuff that’s already on the Internet, while mainstream box office type content will still be as far away as ever (in other words, you’ll have to pay for it!).
This kind of technology for dummies product marketing ultimately does the whole business a disservice, since customers will inevitably be disappointed in what they receive, and even more so when they discover that the USB stick is actually nothing more than a security dongle to allow them access to an online portal (yes a website) on which the content catalog is stored. The service hosts no content at all, just links to web content from the originators, all wrapped up in a fancy looking program guide.
It’s not fraudulent or even deceitful, it’s just a little bit underhand, and the fact is that most people do have trouble finding Web based multimedia content, so the developers of Rabbit TV are definitely offering something of value in that regard. Your gran might find it a great tool to find old movies and radio stations from her homeland far away. What price that ease of access? Anyhoo, the product exists, and we assume it meets a need for a distinct segment of the population who can’t be bothered or don’t have the skills to navigate to the media channels they want.
Rabbit TV is also available via Amazon.com for $13.50, and it may help to read some of the user comments if you need to understand more about the reality of what’s on offer.