When I first met Peter McDermott in Beijing last year, I had no idea what he did. A few days of stepping around town with him and his pack of expats later… I still had no idea. It was largely my fault; I was knee deep in helping Sarah throw TechCrunch’s first international conference, and just didn’t have the time to ask. Peter’s not the type of guy who insists on shoving his pitch down your throat when it’s clearly not convenient.
I finally got the opportunity to talk to him about it a few days ago — turns out, it’s actually quite cool: his company, Nthcode, wants to help manufacturers big and small in bringing the Internet browsing experience to your TV.
For those of us with more high-end doodads in our entertainment stand than our TV has ports, it’s easy to forget: most of the stuff camped out beneath our TVs is actually… quite dumb. Think of all the cable boxes, the Blu-ray players, and media centers that hook up to the Internet for various reasons, only to completely forgo any sort of browsing functionality.
Hell, even the Xbox 360, with its 3.2 Ghz CPU, full-fledged net connectivity, and 6 years of development behind it still lacks any sort of browser.
Meanwhile, the market for stand-alone media boxes is about as crowded as can be. With giants like Apple and Google battling for your living room and smaller (but still mighty fierce) entries like Boxee punching their way up, there’s not much room (especially for a humble 8-man team like Nthcode’s) to build yet another box.
So why not work on making all of the other devices smarter? Those cable boxes, those Blu-ray players — why not give their manufacturers a way to add a bit of smarts to their otherwise simple offerings?
That’s exactly what Nthcode wants to do. They’ve been working on software that would allow manufacturers to add functionality like an HTML5-compatible WebKit browser and DLNA support (for streaming media from your PC) to their TV-connected devices for just a few bucks per unit.
Of course, even that space isn’t without its competition. As Android explodes in popularity in the smartphone world, more and more manufacturers are experimenting with how it fits in other spaces — TVs and set-top boxes included. Nthcode is looking to compete by keeping its offerings simple and its hardware requirements light.
They’ve found partners in what Peter calls a few “niche players” — but so far, no big bites. If you’re working on something that could use a bit of an extra punch, you can reach Nthcode here.
Check out a demo of Nthcode’s Web Browser below: