Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Movl Wants to Take “Kontrol” of Your TV (With a Little Help From Mark Cuban)

Movl, maker of TV apps that wirelessly sync content across multiple electronic devices, has nabbed $500,000 from billionaire entrepreneur/investor Mark Cuban, to help fund its growth as it rolls out three new features.

The tiny, Atlanta-based company launched in October 2010. Run by CEO Juan Pablo Gnecco and CTO Alan Queen, Movl (pronounced (MOE-vul) develops what it calls “multiscreen, multidevice” apps that are meant to enhance the connected-TV experience.

In early 2011, Movl’s Pictionary-like WeDraw app won $200,000 as part of Samsung’s Smart TV apps competition. Last month, Movl announced that it had developed an app called SwipeIt, which works on Android phones and Samsung TVs (and is technically owned by Samsung), allowing users to “swipe” content from their phones and have it appear on their TV screens.

Now the company is working on something called Direct Connect, which adds to the existing Connect service and is designed to work with both the Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities of mobile devices. One example the company gave was tapping into a smartphone’s built-in accelerometer and using the phone as a game controller.

Movl is also experimenting with a multiscreen, interactive ad platform and something it has code-named Kontrol TV, which will offer shortcuts for users to find multiple TV apps from the same app — and not just channel apps, but also trends, tweets, and other social media references related to TV shows. The company is aiming for a May launch of Kontrol TV.

Essentially, Movl is to Samsung TVs what AirPlay is to TVs using the Apple TV box. While enabling users to “throw” content from their mobile devices to their TV screens, Movl also wants to package all the various TV-related apps on that mobile device into one “shell.”

The apps currently work on Samsung TVs, Google TV-equipped sets, iOS and Android devices. Movl said that it is becoming increasingly focused on developing everything in HTML5, which Gnecco and Queen say they see more smart TVs moving toward.

Cuban explained his interest in the company by saying he thinks smart TVs, as a platform, are getting ready to take off, as new TVs get more powerful by the day.

He also said he feels the introduction of an Apple TV — as in an Apple-manufactured television set, not Apple TV in its current form — wouldn’t necessarily disrupt small fish like Movl, because they might have an already-established user base if or when an Apple TV comes out. Apple won’t ever have 100 percent of the TV market, and both Samsung and Vizio have a solid foothold, Cuban believes.

There’s also the question of whether Movl’s new applications could potentially raise the ire of cable operators, who have been introducing their own apps for mobile devices, and who might not like Movl’s idea to aggregate all TV-related apps into Movl’s Kontrol “shell,” as the company describes it.

But Movl says it’s not looking to usurp other apps — it mainly just wants to make it easier for a user to toggle between various TV apps during a multiscreen viewing experience. The company has been speaking with some cable providers that are interested in using Movl as a possible white-label solution, it says.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald