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TiVo suffers as DirecTV bolts

For some time, digital video recorder maker TiVo has been struggling to meet financial expectations despite having one of the most passionate user bases in business. Good news for the company has been hard to come by, but one piece had been that satellite TV behemoth DirecTV provided its customers with TiVo's DVRs and service.

But now word comes that DirecTV is abandoning TiVo by year's end. And that can only mean more tough times for the DVR maker. Indeed, its shares plummeted 9 percent after the news hit Thursday.

To be sure, TiVo has had a devil of a time making money off its service. The problem has been that its customers are about as fervent about it as were customers of Kozmo and Webvan, dot-com-era companies like Kozmo and Webvan, but there just aren't enough of them for TiVo to pay the bills. And while it's always good to have users who would run in front of a bus before giving up your service, Kozmo and Webvan are probably not the kinds of names you want to be associated with.

In any case, with DirecTV jumping ship in favor of a DVR reported to be built by NDS Group, TiVo is rapidly running out of major partners with whom to reach large numbers of new customers. And if it doesn't find them soon, a lot of people out there are going to someday think back wistfully on TiVo and wonder why it didn't work out.