TiVo to create DVR sans cable box

Company plans to introduce a high-resolution digital video recorder and deliver programming over the Internet.

Tech Culture
LAS VEGAS--TiVo plans to introduce a high-resolution digital video recorder and deliver programming over the Internet, in an effort to differentiate itself from recording services offered by cable and satellite providers, the company said Thursday.

Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo, perhaps the best-known maker of digital video recorders (DVRs), also said it will embrace the CableCard initiative, which allows televisions to link to digital cable systems without the use of a cable set-top box.

The moves come as TiVo faces lingering concerns from investors and analysts regarding its subscriber growth. Although the company has more than 2 million subscribers, analysts say that growth of more-profitable "standalone" users--those not acquired through satellite provider DirecTV--has not come fast enough.

"It's our strategy for moving beyond DVR, and be competitive in our strategy to differentiate ourselves from generic DVRs and to continually add value to our service," Michael Ramsay, chief executive of TiVo, said in an interview during the Consumer Electronics Show here.

TiVo hopes it can bolster its roster of fee-paying subscribers via the addition of original video-- such as Hollywood films --downloaded from the Internet and capabilities built into the TiVo screen interface that can search the vast global computer network for other video choices.

Ramsay said that with the advent of digital technology like CableCARD, TiVo has to plan for the day when set-top boxes are no more.

Today, "the core of our business remains in the retail space, and we are pushing hard," he added. "But we have the opportunity to offer something that is very different than what cable companies offer."

TiVo said it will launch in early 2006 a cable-ready, high-definition DVR with CableCARD built in that also includes a cable tuner.

The company also announced partnerships with Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices and Sonic Solutions that give people the ability to burn shows to a DVD or view them on a handheld device, via TiVo's new TiVoToGo service.

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