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New TiVo DVR, Few Changes, No Surprises, Little Disappointed

by quasar-atl / March 2, 2010 9:39 PM PST

Dear Buzz Gang and Crew,
I just saw the new TiVo DVR. Besides minor menu features, updated search, video-in-box feature, and a few bells and whistles features with the remote, there is really not much more on this device versus the previous HD TiVo boxes. TiVo seems to prefer to sit on their patents and milk their customers out of monthly fees. You would think with all of the innovation that is happening in the tech industry that TiVo would have made a greater effort to leap forward in order to be more innovative. This may explain why their subscriber base has dropped from 2.7 million, from 3.5 million over the last few years. They have failed to really come up with innovative products to keep customers using the service. BTW: I am a HD TiVo subscriber.

My Opinion:
TiVo has left themselves wide open for a competitor to come in and really reinvent the Home DVR market. All it takes is a competitor that is not afraid to take on TiVo......ala Apple, Sony, Hitachi, or even Nintendo. There needs to be a real competitor in this market to get TiVo off their butts and really develop a innovative DVR. My guess, it will happen later in 2010.,2817,2360860,00.asp

Later People.

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(NT) What innovative features do you have in mind?
by Kees Bakker / March 2, 2010 10:09 PM PST
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Great Question Kees Bakker! ;-), TiVo Innovative Features
by quasar-atl / March 2, 2010 10:58 PM PST

Hey Kees,
That is a really great question. Before I get to work, what I would like to see on a TiVo are the following:

1. Ability to record more than two channels simultaneously: This feature currently already exist with AT&T DVRs. Simply adding additional cable card slots and or tuners would satisfy this function on a TiVo.

2. Connections for Caller-ID notification from phone: Okay, this is a couch potato feature but if I am engulfed in a great movie or TV program such as "Buzz Out Loud Video Podcasts" and my landline phone rings, I at least want the option to ignore the call or answer it. TiVo could use the phone line interface on the device to accept Caller-ID notifications and let you know who is calling you.

3. Ability to connect to additional Internet Streaming Services: Okay TiVo has made great strides with YouTube, NetFlix, Amazon, and Blockbuster Video. They mentioned others as well coming soon but why not services such as Hulu, Fancast, or even Joost. Yes, I know that many Cable Provider would have a "cow" if these services were enabled but that should not prevent TiVo from connecting to existing network providers such CBS, NBC, ABC which already have streaming Internet websites. TiVo should be able to work agreements with these network providers for streaming content.

4. Enable TiVo to be a full blown Media Server: The new TiVo takes a step closer toward this by offering internet steaming as well as accessing music and pictures but why not make the TiVo a media server? TiVo should have software enabled on the device to allow for direct uploading of pictures and movies from various devices so you can watch this content over your TiVo. Right now, you have to go through server steps and services to make this happen.

5. Ratings and Social Network Sharing: It completely blowns my mind why TiVo has not jump on the social networking bandwagon. WOW!! because TiVo could be making mountains of money by offering its users the ability to rate programs through a social network forum. In that way, TiVo users could see how other TiVo owners rate programs and movies. They could even interact with each other and discuss programs. Netflix, Amazon and even Apple have already made great strides in this area. TiVo is missing the boat on this one.

6. Ability to enable "Mass Storage": Hey, once you have a media server, you want to store data on it. I have a 1 TB SATA drive on my TiVo and it is nice but they could offer more. Simply put, having as many as four SATA interfaces should not be a stretch for TiVo. Believe me, if there were more storage on a TiVo, people would use it.

These are just some of the features that I would love to see on a really innovative TiVo box, Kees. But I definitely can see where a competitor will have all that I mentioned and more. It is just a matter of time.

Later. Happy

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You want a geek dream machine. But TiVo has built its
by minimalist / March 3, 2010 2:43 AM PST

business on keeping it simple.

Lots of geeks also don't like the limitations of the iPhone but those very limitations are what makes it easy to use and so popular with the mainstream audience.

I'm not sure if TiVo will succeed with these new boxes, but it certainly won't be because they lack social networking and caller ID functions. Their slip in market share has more to do with the rise of cheap generic cable DVR's than it has to do with a lack of cutting edge functions.

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Stop living up to your nickname, lol
by Slikkster / March 3, 2010 4:37 AM PST

I disagree with your analysis. Sure, Tivo "keeps it simple", but there are ways to incorporate advance functionality while making the choices simple for Joe and Jane user to use.

The cable companies and satellite services are already providing the Caller-ID functionality into their boxes. For god's sake, if my 80+ year-old parents can figure out how to toggle that on in the settings, we're not talking about rocket science. (and yes, they can and did figure that out).

Tivo invented the technology and now stands to be usurped by follow-ons. If they want to stay in business by over-charging for hardware --which they do-- then they sure as hell better be offering something better than the cablers/sats. And that means more features, not dumbed-down stuff. The cable companies surely don't want you to have the ability to record more than two streams at once. That would mean cheaper cable cards, vs. having to get another box. Enter Tivo, were they smart enough to avail themselves of the strategy.

Bigger hard drives, more connectivity for home streaming, etc., etc., etc. They can always offer stipped-down boxes for people that just want a run-of-the-mill DVR. But there's a real opening on the high end that's just waiting to be exploited.

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Oh I don;t know if it really matters if they offer all these
by minimalist / March 4, 2010 2:13 AM PST

features. The cable companies may have caller ID but they don't give you Netflix, or Amazon, or Blockbuster (or a very usable UI). These services are what's on the tip of everyone's tongues these days and they are what really matter. Its not about having a laundry list of features. its about targeting the big ones that people really care about and having a killer UI.

The box does have some bad things. For example, gouging people for a wifi dongle is pretty unconscionable (but sadly overpriced accessories has become the norm with so many gadgets these days) and 500 dollars is too high considering I'm not a heavy TV viewer. But if I was in the market for a DVR (I'm not because I don't subscribe to cable) the 300 dollar model would definitely be at the top of my list.

I believe in paying a bit more upfront for a more hassle free experience. It's why Apple has become so popular with people with a bit more disposable income. I think that same demographic is willing to pay a bit extra for the TiVo experience. This upmarket approach irritates some geeks I know but it doesn't make it any less viable a business strategy.

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I think it was deceptively simple that did it
by DangMI / March 4, 2010 5:42 AM PST

Just take season passes--how many times did VCR programming fail because a program changed its time for one week or scheduled a 2 hour special and you only got the first hour?

And would you ever have tried to work out how to record all the programs with a particular actor or director across all channels and time?

So, I'd submit that what TiVo did was figure our how to do things which had been anywhere from hard to impossible before, but with a simple intuitive interface. THAT was the genius. So, adding the proposed features--sure!--but keep it simple to USE them.

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In the design world they call that the difference
by minimalist / March 4, 2010 7:06 AM PST

between "simplicity" and just plain "simple". One implies you have solved complex issues in a concise and elegant manner. The other just means you have a have a product that doesn't do much.

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Nice distinction
by DangMI / March 5, 2010 6:45 AM PST

Makes great sense. Now all we have to watch out for is simplistic! LOI

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I actually got that backwards :-P
by minimalist / March 5, 2010 10:05 PM PST
In reply to: Nice distinction

"simple" is good. "Simplistic" is not so good.

Simplistic denotes that the user realizes that there isn;t really anything very sophisticated going on under the surface. Simple means a UI or product designer has done their job really well.

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by Indianatone / March 5, 2010 9:58 AM PST

Having used a TIVO on Directv for many years here are some important points with regard to AT&T. Yes you can record four shows at once BUT only two of them can be HD, if two people in your house are watching HD programming then none can be HD recording. I for one was unaware of these limitations before I signed up for U Verse. There are advantages and disadvantages to every system.

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Update: TiVo tight on cash, CEO on Fox News
by quasar-atl / March 3, 2010 8:41 PM PST

Update: TiVo's CEO Tom Rogers has been doing the News Show circuit talking up the new DVR and he mentioned that the company is sitting on $200 Million in cash. He also mentioned that they are waiting on a court case to get more cash. Rogers hinted at Hulu being accessible over TiVo. Although I commend TiVo for not having any debt, the company is still a little tight on cash which may explain the lack of innovative products. Look at these numbers:

TiVo spent $87.8 million litigating EchoStar over patent infringement
Last quarter ending, TiVo had a net loss of $6.7 million
TiVo now has 2.7 Million subscribers down from 3.5 Million
TiVo earns $7.65 dollars per subscriber yielding $20 Million in cash revenue
TiVo is suing AT&T and Verizon over the same patent infringement they won from EchoStar
Microsoft is suing TiVo over patent challenges

Although the company has good cash flow, with all of these court battles costing the company money, TiVo is not likely to keep its $200 Million in cash. Although I think that the company will prevail, the legal cases are obviously distracting the company from creating further innovative products however Tom Rogers did tell Fox News that more products are on the way. I guess we have to wait and see.

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podcasts plus more...
by porsche10x / March 7, 2010 12:23 AM PST

There's a whole other feature set of Tivo that really hasn't been exploited (or maybe it has?) There's an open architecture network / internet interface that allows websites to create virtually any type of application on line and connect it to your Tivo. I know that a few years ago there were hundreds of third party apps. There's a competitive trivia game (not the arcade games, but just like those competitive trivia games you used to play in bars where the bar tender gave out several keyboards and the screens were behind the bar). There's a dating site that you can interact with through your Tivo (I liked to imagine it's sort of like the technology in the beginning of Logan's Run but without the holograms:) I never did try it though)

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