Orb Networks is releasing the latest version of its Orb Live app today, which allows users to stream content from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD and other sources to their mobile devices. Users download free Orb Caster software to their PC or Mac, and then by purchasing the $9.99 Orb Live app are able to stream video from their computer to their mobile device. The iOS version of Orb Live is available today, with the Android version coming in mid-August.
The new Hulu feature is useful for gaining access to the free programs that are available on Hulu.com since you currently have to subscribe to Hulu Plus in order to gain mobile access though its app. In addition to Hulu and other premium content, new features in Orb Live include adaptive bit rate capability to deliver the optimal experience depending on fluctuating connection speeds. Orb has also created an index of all premium content available so that when users search for a particular show, its availability on multiple sites is surfaced.
Orb Live requires either 3G, 4G or WiFi. But with wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon introducing usage caps, Orb Live users will no doubt primarily use WiFi to gain access. A reminder to use the Orb Caster software, the home computer must be both on and awake in order to stream to Orb Live.
There's also a question as to whether Hulu might object to Orb Live. Though it complies by Hulu's restrictions of technically streaming to a U.S. based computer, the fact that Hulu content can be place-shifted by Orb Live outside the U.S. as well as device-shifted from the computer could raise flags. Hulu has been very careful to only allow Hulu Plus access off the computer and it still only has domestic distribution rights. An app like Orb Live could crack the door open to others trying to shift Hulu.com content to connected devices and on to the TV, something Hulu has preempted in the past. In addition, TV Everywhere services are aiming to provide mobile access only to authenticated pay-TV users (e.g. ESPN, and now CNN/HLN).
Still, Orb Live will capitalize on users' desire to access their content on their mobile devices. The prior version of Orb Live sold 170K copies, with Hulu access and the other new features, Orb Live should also perform well.
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