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Akimbo debuts video on demand on Amazon

Consumers who subscribe to the service can receive thousands of programs--from CNN news to children's shows--via the Net.

Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
Stefanie Olsen
Akimbo on Monday launched its video-on-demand service and signed on Amazon.com as its official retailer.

The privately held company, based in San Mateo, Calif., makes the Akimbo Player, a set-top box that delivers hundreds of videos to television by way of Internet downloads. Seattle-based Amazon will be the exclusive retailer of the player through December, according to the company.

The device is now on sale at Amazon, though it hasn't started shipping, according to the retailer's site. An Akimbo representative said it should begin shipping next week. The company had originally 's="" 'queue="" and="" view'="" tv="" experience--watching="" only="" choose,="" whenever="" want="" it,"="" akimbo="" founder="" ="" href="http://www.akimbo.com/bios.html#sshannon">Steve Shannon said in a statement.

Akimbo has competition, however. Dave TV is another emerging video-on-demand player and service. Disney's Moviebeam, a video-on-demand (VOD) service for films, is planning wider distribution in the coming year. And others, including TiVo and Netflix, are developing on-demand video services for 2005.

Just recently, Amazon was said to be preparing an online DVD rental service, too. But Amazon's service would let people rent and receive movies through the U.S. postal system rather than via download.

Still, Akimbo's Shannon is looking at multiple avenues to become the largest VOD service for the television. He said he plans to license the Akimbo service to other set-top box makers. And Shannon said at a recent industry conference that he has held talks with movie studios about bringing pay-per-view movies to the service.

Akimbo is backed by venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.