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AdAge Predicts Tivo will Fail 463

Posted by michael
from the backseat-driving dept.
geddes writes "Under the obnoxious headline More U.S. Homes have Outhouses then TiVos, Advertising Age has published an article with a few good points: 1) Tivo/ReplayTV/UltimateTV aren't making any money and their growth is declining. 2) Cable and Satellite TV services are slowly rolling out PVR on thier own boxes. So 3) PVR will become a standard feature for most television users but become as unbranded as programmable VCRs."
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AdAge Predicts Tivo will Fail

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  • Brand recognition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Duds (100634) <[gro.ecapsretne] [ta] [yeldud]> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:48PM (#4608617) Homepage Journal
    True, there will soon be as many Tivo brands as you care to name.

    But people will still call them "Tivo"s.

    It's like in the UK, every vacumn cleaner is usually referred to as a "hoover". Or in the US "Xerox".

    You cannot buy that brand recognition. Assuming Tivo themselves don't screw up, they will have a healthy share of the PVR industry for a decade or more.
    • by Zerbey (15536) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:50PM (#4608634) Homepage Journal
      Our Xerox eats paper, so I guess you could says it cleans, to a point. Does a pretty good job of shredding also.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I have never called my vaccuum cleaner "Xerox".
    • Since when did Xerox start making vacumn cleaners?
    • Re:Brand recognition (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jocks (56885)
      The counter to that is the "Dyson" in the UK, it became an object of desire amongst UK housewives and broke the brand loyalty to "Hoover".

      In these days of recession people tend to start looking a bit more closely at what they are paying for. Brand name or not, if it is not good people will not buy it.
      • But they still call it a "Hoover"... ;-) It's used for both the noun and verb forms of the word. I've never heard anyone here say that they are going to "Dyson" or "vacuum" their floor, it's always "hoover".

        I disagree with your point on brand names, the majority of people will favour a brand name over an unknown brand with similar features. All that money spent on advertising had a purpose...

        • That was one of the best advertising campaigns ever... i.e. shopper goes into a store and asks to see the range of 'Hoovers' on offer rather than 'Vacuum Cleaners'.

          Ever since Mr. Dyson got rejected (when designing the Dyson) by Hoover, and then when he was successful (Hoover and other companies 'magically' come up with thier own cyclone system) with the Dyson, he bans anyone using the term 'Hoovering' in his presense... who can blame him!

          Although I've tried changing the term Hoovering to Dysoning when I help my parents when cleaning the Pub, which hasn't caught on too well... but we've had ours for four years and it is still going strong, the replacement parts we needed were the handle and the bumper (which got too many bumps). When they sent us a warranty renewal form, they still grant us the ability to get a new one if our one needs replacing!

          Wow, to think this thread started off on the TiVO subject. I wouldn't have thought us geeks could be so interested in vacuum cleaners... but we need to reiterate just how strong the suction is on these modern cleaners, just in case any cheap thrill ideas (think Austin Powers and his 'personal' collection) turn out to become below waist lipo(and sausage) suction jobs! Careful now!

    • by Traicovn (226034) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:00PM (#4608753) Homepage
      They may have brand name recognition, and they may be a 'household name' but does that mean that they are going to be around forever?
      Picks up tha magic 8 ball... signs point to no

      The article states that already Tivo/Replay TV are licensing their products. It is very likely that eventually you will find companies that are trying to meet bottom line prices and will buy PVR from whomever can give them the lowest price. That's business. Tivo and the like companies will most likely become more of a software company than a 'hardware' company, especially with the advent of digital cable boxes and satellite boxes in so many homes. Many people will prefer one box that does everything. I honestly won't be surprised if we see television sets soon with PVR embedded into them (does anyone know if this has been done yet?), say within 3 years. Most cable companies are going digital, and to access all the 'great digital features' you have to have an addressable digital cable box, cable companies will gladly install software that will get people to use their product, especially if they think they can charge an extra monthly charge, or use charge, or even simply offer it as a feature and insert a few extra advertisements at the beginning of the program.
      A quick summary. Tivo may still be around, but they might have a much weaker hardware division, or none at all. They may also have to diversify to stay around... (diversify, I had to use a buzzword ;) )
      • Other than the reference design, TiVo IS more of a software than a hardware company. All of the TiVo PVRs are made by either Phillips or Sony.

        TiVo wouldn't care if someone started giving away TiVo boxes, as long as they were still selling their service, which is their revenue stream.

        Most obvious thing wrong with this article: It states that the inclusion of PVR features will be the downfall of TiVo/ReplayTV.

        Um, how? DishPVR = rebranded ReplayTV
        DirectTV's PVR system used to be known as DirecTiVo - It's no longer called that, but it's still a TiVo system that TiVo is making money off of.
        • Um, how? DishPVR = rebranded ReplayTV
          No, Dish makes their own PVR boxes and develops their own software for it. The only exception to that would be their earliest PVR product called the DishPlayer which they developed in conjunction with Microsoft, but it has been plagued with a ton of bugs and slow update cycles and they have stayed clear of these types of partnerships ever since (preferring to develop everything in-house)
    • It's like in the UK, every vacumn cleaner is usually referred to as a "hoover". Or in the US "Xerox".

      True. But not every vacuum cleaner in a UK house is a Hoover and certainly not every US office copier is a Xerox.

      Branding is good, but consumers purchasing your product and you making a profit is much better.
    • here's a million dollar idea - convert old xeroxes to asswipe dispensers...

      then you could say "i really had to take a legal-size shit this morning".

    • It's like in the UK, every vacumn cleaner is usually referred to as a "hoover".
      I guess it doesn't really matter if Tivo goes the way of the dodo, but it's kinda like the Aladdin Corporation, they didn't fight the infringement battle over their "Thermos" brand, and now Thermos is pretty much accepted as a term [dictionary.com] instead of a trademarked brand.

    • The only thing Microsoft could make that wouldnt suck would be a vacuum clearner. It would blow.

      siri
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:49PM (#4608626)
    PVRs will obviously be subsumed into the TV unit itself...TiVo can only hope to save itself through a superior UI and programming service that it maybe can sell to cable providers.
    • TiVo HAS already sold it to DirecTV. My TiVo service is now billed as DIRECTV DVR. Advertising materials are now calling it "DirecTV Digital Video Recording service powered by TiVo" or some such nonsense. My Series I combo boxes still have TiVo logos on the front! Can't change that with a line on the billing statement. Don't know about the new Series2 satellite receiver/DVR combos, though.
    • Just like VCRs and DVDs! err...

      Maybe it's not "obviously"...
    • PVRs will obviously be subsumed into the TV unit itself
      Am I the only one that sees this as either a bad thing or something that won't catch on in the way people are implying? I like having everything separated into components and I generally see people who prefer TV/VCR combos as less sophisticated. Plus there's the whole bit of having to take the entire thing in when the VCR breaks. Plus, its not like VCR's are in every TV, so what makes them think the PVR will make it in?

      Of course, TiVO, being a small shit, is easier to target by the TV networks. How will the TV networks sue all the TV makers? That's like all the tire manufacturers suing all the car makers - chicken/egg thing again.

    • As the cable providers try to introduce their own PVRs, they will have to pay Tivo directly to do it. Like MicroSoft and their Ultimate TV, they will have to license it all from Tivo.
  • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:49PM (#4608629) Homepage Journal
    Another news site has just found that more outhouses have tivos than homes!
  • Except.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Enry (630) <.enry. .at. .wayga.net.> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:50PM (#4608639) Journal
    Except for the fact that AT&T broadband and DirectTV are already rebranding Tivo for their set top boxes. There aren't any real competitors yet aside from ReplayTV.

    Ooh...but I like the list of related articles:

    "Without advertising, we will damage this country"
    "72.3% of Tivo viewers skip commercials"

    Then again, this is like MSFT reporting that Linux is pretty much dead.
    • Re:Except.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by GregGardner (66423) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:38PM (#4609159) Homepage
      Actually Dish Network has it's own home brew PVR that is fairly popular. They pretty much give away the lower-end one for free if you sign up with them. And you can get a more souped up one (dual tuner, more hard disk space) for roughly the price of a regular Tivo and it doesn't have the monthly recurring Tivo cost. The software and UI pale in comparison to the Tivo, but supposedly they have a decent market share (as far as PVRs go).

      As said on here many times, though, Tivo is now licensing their software to folks like AT&T and DirecTV, so you will soon be getting a "DirecTV DVR powered by Tivo" instead of a "Tivo". It's a win-win for both sides and will most likely keep Tivo afloat.
  • bah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtdennis (77869) <oyr249m02@sneakema i l . c om> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:50PM (#4608644) Homepage
    "The stock of TiVo, meanwhile, is down 95% from 2000; its star has faded on Wall Street even as it's risen on Madison Avenue"

    Give me one tech stock that's near what it was in 2000. I notice the article doesn't say a thing about whether Tivo has actually made money or is making money right now. As it is, they're getting $12/month from me and I'm looking to add another Tivo soon.
  • TiVo's problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ibmhack (623127)
    The public at large doesn't understand or know about it! The techies 'get it' but most people view it as a hideously expensive VCR without understanding how much better it is!
    • Re:TiVo's problem (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Enry (630)
      On the one hand, you have people who say "I don't watch TV", when what they mean to say is "I don't watch CRAPPY TV". There's a lot of good shows on that are on at times when people normally wouldn't watch them. I can't stay up late to watch all of Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, so I have my Tivo record it and I can watch it the next day.

      On the other, Tivo does have a problem with explaining how it works. It's a lot more than saying "it's a really good VCR!". That's where
      the existing user base comes in, as it's a lot easier to show someone how it works and what it does than listen to the PFY at BestBuy practically reading off the sales sheet and not know anything more about it.
    • Re:TiVo's problem (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:06PM (#4608812) Homepage
      TiVo's problem is surely their attempt to follow a subscription-based model rather than just selling boxes. It might have been better to manufacture PVRs, sell them at a reasonable price (which is still far above what they cost to manufacture, given the price drops in components over the past few years) and when the market peters out, just retire gracefully and return the profits to shareholders.

      Trying to build up a base of paying subscribers may look good on the company's accounts, but shareholders are surely not under any illusions that these subscribers are guaranteed to stay around forever. Meanwhile potential customers (like me) stay away from TiVo because we don't want to pay a subscription for something (TV listings) which is available for free anyway, and the box will become useless once TiVo goes bust or discontinues service. The idea of PVRs is bound to take off, but you can't take that to mean that any particular company will survive.

      Just sell the damn things like toasters, pocket the money, and stop making them when it becomes unprofitable. That's all there is to it.
      • Re:TiVo's problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by Deven (13090) <deven@ties.org> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @02:36PM (#4609781) Homepage
        It's not that simple. To do what TiVo does, and do it well, they really need a large number of users to support the infrastructure. Since standalone boxes have ongoing costs associated with providing the service, a subscription model makes sense.

        ReplayTV tried to just sell boxes as their model; it hasn't worked well. They had to charge $650 when TiVo was charging $400. Guess who picked up more customers faster?

        Arguably, the DirecTV combo units don't really provide a service from TiVo, since they leverage the guide data already being sent over the satellite. (However, I believe this data has been enhanced for the TiVo.) On the other hand, the subscription price for the DirecTV units has been reduced to $5/month, which is the same as the "mirroring" charge to have a second receiver on your DirecTV account. Since the DirecTV receivers with TiVo have two tuners, you get the second tuner free, and pay the $5/month for TiVo service instead, so it's a wash.

        If you have two combo boxes, you only pay the extra $5/month for a second receiver, not another $5/month for the TiVo service -- the "mirroring" charge covers mirroring the TiVo service as well. I have a combo box with lifetime service (which is no longer offered for combo boxes), and my $5/month mirroring charge gives my second combo box the benefit of lifetime server, as long as both remain on the same account.

        Meanwhile, the price of service has increased to $13/month for standalone boxes, but that's not so unreasonable, considering that maintaining the infrastructure for all those boxes to dial in with modems is quite expensive, not even counting the cost of preparing the data and updating software.

        Ultimately, if TiVo can get over a million subscribers, they should be profitable by that point. Right now, they're more than halfway to that target, and still losing money, but it was part of their business plan from day one. You'll probably see TiVo turn a profit by 2004 or 2005.

        As for what shareholders think, I am a shareholder, as well as a customer, and I don't have a problem with their subscription model. Most of the subscribers will stick around indefinitely, once they've got the hardware. TiVo is very good at what they do, and it's a killer product. It's just hard to market because the true value of the product is hard to convey. TiVo's greatest asset is word-of-mouth from their enormously loyal, extremely satisfied customers. Meanwhile, I'm going to buy as much TiVo stock as I can afford while it's still cheap.

        One more thing -- if buying a subscription offends you so much, why don't you just buy the box and spend the extra $250 for lifetime service? Then you don't have to pay the subscription cost, and you can treat it as if you bought it at the combined cost.

        You can't get lifetime service with the DirecTV models anymore, but so what? You get a second tuner in the combo box for the same monthly cost as a second standalone DirecTV receiver would cost you, so if effect it doesn't cost anything. More importantly, the combo boxes record directly from the satellite with 100% perfect recording quality, because you watch the EXACT same stream of MPEG2 bits live as you do when you play back a recording. Better yet, it's also much more efficient in disk space usage. The combo boxes thus have better recording quality than "Best" mode on the standalones, while using similar amounts of disk space as the "Basic" mode on standalones, which is said to be roughly the quality of VHS EP (6-hour) mode. The only real downside to the combo boxes is that you can't record from other video sources, only DirecTV. But with DirecTV's improved local coverage, that may not be an issue for you.

        If you already have DirecTV and only watch the satellite, the "DirecTV receiver with TiVo" combo box is a no-brainer. If you use cable, it might be worth switching to DirecTV for the advantages. If not, you can buy a standalone (with lifetime service if you don't like subscriptions).

        Regardless, if you like TV, get a TiVo -- preferably the DirecTV combo version. It's worth it. You'll never watch TV the same way again, and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. And that is why I bought the stock; very few products have such an impact. My wife hated the idea of getting a TiVo (more gadgets) and it took 3 months to convince her to let me buy it. Within a few weeks, she was no longer mad about it, and within a couple months, she was extolling the TiVo's virtues to everyone she could. She had her mind made up to hate it, and it still won her over. If TiVo can do that, they can do anything! ;-)
      • Why is this insightful? Tivo are not only making money by selling subscriptions, they are also licensing their technology to companies (Philips and Sony, for example) who sell the hardware. They basically incur ZERO costs licensing the technology (other than legal fees, I guess) whereas the manufacturers have to worry about startup and production costs.

        Also, the Tivo service is NOT something you can get for free by looking the listings up on TVGuide.com. It does a lot more than just matching up the listings to what you want to record, it also figures out what you like to watch, and recommends shows that maybe you haven't heard of by (anonymously) collecting the viewing habits of others like you, and correlating the data. Personally I really like this service, as although I sometimes get some whacky programming (I don't speak Spanish, but my Tivo sometimes thinks I do) I also get many shows which I never would have watched otherwise, but which turn out to be shows I really enjoy.

  • Control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cire (96846) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:51PM (#4608648)
    While I like Tivo, if they fail or not is really not a big thing. Companies fail all the time, even ones we think (or we thought) would be really cool. Think transmeta, or Segway.

    The problem is who controls the content? Will cable companies remove features, like the ability to skip ahead 30 which they feels gives users the ability to skip commercials? Probably. Given the choice between pleasing consumers, or pleasing advertisers and shareholders (which they're leagally bound to do!) the companies always stay with the advertisers.

    Cire
    • While I like Tivo, if they fail or not is really not a big thing.

      You don't own a TiVo, do you?
    • Re:Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greedo (304385) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:06PM (#4608822) Homepage Journal
      Will cable companies remove features, like the ability to skip ahead 30 which they feels gives users the ability to skip commercials? Probably. Given the choice between pleasing consumers, or pleasing advertisers and shareholders (which they're leagally bound to do!) the companies always stay with the advertisers.

      And therein is the biggest problem in the media industry: content providers are too lazy to adapt to changes in technology, so they fight innovation to maintain the status quo.

      Record companies and file sharing. Cable companies and PVRs. Et cetera.

      I own a PVR (not a TiVO, but a higher-end satellite receiver with PVR built-in). It's fan-frickin-tastic. My VCR has been collecting dust for the last year and a half.

      And yes, I skip msot commercials. But why do I skip them? 'Cause most of them suck.

      There are commercials, however, that I do watch. And often rewind and watch again. And call my wife over to watch with me. These are the funny, intelligent, clever or bizarre commercials. Like the IKEA lamp. Like one for Tourette's syndrome. . Like the Mini and Nissan ones (just 'cause those songs are infectious).

      If companies just made better commericals, I don't think people would skip them as much. They skip them because they are boring ... and they are everywhere.

      At some point (and we've probably reached it), advertizing becomes so ubiquitous that it stops working. People tune it out. Advertisers think the solution is to put up more ads, in more places, in unexpected places. It's only going to piss people off more.

      The solution is to make better ads. Why don't they realize this?
  • When I read about 'em I thought it was a great idea - trap the shows you want to watch, batch them, sit down and watch the whole lot of them when I felt like it. Then reality set it. I despise television. I don't even own one. So having a TiVo would do me no good.
    • All the good shows are generally on at bizarre hours when people dont have the time to watch them, or are at work, or just are too busy in general. Tivo has made TV worthwhile again, with it, you weed out those shows you "dispise" .. You'll NEVER see them again! EVER ! How cool is that? To me it sounds like TIVO is your holy grail. I had basic cable because when I watched TV nothing was on. It was all crap. A friend got a Tivo and I liked how it grabbed Sienfeld at the odd hours .. I got my own, and now I have full DIGITAL cable, with 6 HBOs, and my Tivo is OVERFLOWING with documentries, great comedy skits, and some really fantastic movies on Independent Film Channel! TV *rocks*, but only with a TIVO.
  • by Lupulack (3988) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:51PM (#4608652)

    Everything useful eventually becomes brand-less.


    Take PC's , they used to be called IBM compatibles. But now they're just so DAMNED handy and ubiquitous that now nobody REALLY cares what the brand is.

  • by Alcohol Fueled (603402) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:52PM (#4608662) Homepage
    Umm.. Isn't that a little weird, comparing a little cramped place to take a squat in to a thing to record TV shows on? Sure, there may be more homes with outhouses, but do they really want the outhouse? Probably not. Everyone would LOVE to have a bathroom from MTV Cribs in their house, but they can't. More people probably want a Tivo, but maybe can't afford it, (I don't know the price, so let me be.. ;). Besides, I would think Tivo, or something like it, could be around for a while. Not everyone can be at home to watch their favorite TV shows, and want a way to record them other then low quality VHS tapes.
  • However... (Score:4, Funny)

    by toupsie (88295) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:52PM (#4608664) Homepage
    More U.S. Homes have Outhouses then TiVos,

    More Slashdot Editors and Users have Tivos than know how to write a grammatically correct sentence.

  • by RedWolves2 (84305)
    When you have to pay $13 a month to receive the channel listing through TiVo when you already get them through your cable box it is not worth it. Replay TV has a free monthly service but you pay outragous prices to get it.

    I would much rather get it from my cable company for $10 extra a month and no upfront costs. Even if the features aren't as good as TiVos.
    • Now that DirecTV [directv.com] has assumed control over combo TiVo/DirecTv Receivers, the monthly price is down to less than $6. And I believe it's free if you get their Total Choice programming...

      As for the upfront costs...it only cost me $99 to get a Dual LNB Dish, DirecTiVo and Installation. Sounds good to me!

    • by mosch (204)
      I have tivo, and I've bought tivos for a number of friends as gifts. Every single unit I've purchased either has a lifetime subscription (purchased for prices ranging from $100 to $250), or has no subscription cost at all (DirecTiVo on a system that has the premium package).

      As far as TiVo from your cable company goes, there are a number of such services available from companies like nCube, and don't expect them to sell for $10/mo, because storing everything at the headend means bandwidth limitations greatly restrict the number of people who can use this service, so it'll be expensive, and probably be billed at rates similar to impulse pay-per-view movies.

      More likely is that more cable companies will follow the lead of DirecTV and AT&T, and create settop boxes that license TiVo's technology, so TiVo will prosper, even if they're selling less hardware direct to the consumer.

    • I would much rather get it from my cable company for $10 extra a month and no upfront costs.

      Me too... I like the idea of the digital cable box being integrated with the PVR.

      Even if the features aren't as good as TiVos.

      That depends on how good the PVR is. I'll keep my TiVo if it sucks, which is unfortunately what I've read in usenet regarding the TimeWarner digital cable PVR being released soon. :-(
    • Replay TV has a free monthly service but you pay outragous prices to get it.

      Hmm...you have to pay outrageous prices to get a free service. Does that make any sense to you? Did you stop to think that maybe the service is "free" because you pay for it up front? You can do that with TiVo too if you want, $250 for the lifetime of the box. BTW, the TiVo service is far more than "channel listings."

  • by xTK-421x (531992) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:52PM (#4608672) Homepage
    Another week, another article proclaiming the death of TiVo. Notice how it's posted by a magazine focused on advertising? Of course they want TiVo to fail, it provides the means for skipping all their boring advertisements.

    Will TiVo fail? Possibly. Will it become useless? No. Due to their open architecture, people can and already have hacked the TV guide info, and if/when the day comes they go under, hackers will be able to take up the call and keep the service going.

    I hope that day doesn't come, since this well designed hardware and software.
    • Just because it's written by such an article, doesn't mean that they're exhibiting bias. They may have an interest in its outcome, but I don't see anything in the article that suggests that it is distorting or otherwise mis-representing the truth. Yes, TiVo is great. Yes, TiVo is hurting as a company. Yes, it could quite possibly sale. They're presenting an analysis but it doesn't seem to be unfounded. Neither this article nor this article [slashdot.org] seem to be biased.
      • Ugh, I don't know what happened ... Corrected text follows.

        Just because it's written by such
        a magazine, doesn't mean that they're exhibiting bias. They may have an interest in its outcome, but I don't see anything in the article that suggests that it is distorting or otherwise mis-representing the truth. Yes, TiVo is great. Yes, TiVo is hurting as a company. Yes, it could quite possibly fail. They're presenting an analysis but it doesn't seem to be unfounded. Neither this article nor this article [slashdot.org] seem to be biased.
    • Film at 11? (Score:4, Funny)

      by sulli (195030) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @03:09PM (#4610135) Journal
      Fuck that, I'll TiVo it and watch it in the morning.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jack Wagner (444727)
    But not for the reasons they are pointing out.

    Quite frankly since the PC is a commodity and and priced at very low levels so anyone with any technical saavy can build their own TiVo with a copy of Gnu/RedHat, some Radio Shack cabling and some common open source software tools. I've personally built prototypes of these units for a large client who shall remain nameless and I was able to come in under $200. Plus it's all open and non-propretary and thus I can charge my client to go back and make any mods they want as they go forward to the next level in the future.

    I'm generally not a big fan of open source and anit-capitalist solutions but this is the perfect one where "The Shoe Fits" as it were.

    Warmest regards,
    --Jack
    • Brilliant! I'm forwarding on your instructions to my 75 year old mother...she's been wanting a TiVo.

      Your obvious knack for user friendliness has made me want to hire you, however, your domain name can't be resolved. I guess I'll have to find someone else to take us to the "next level".
    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ciannait (82722) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:19PM (#4608958)
      When you can also write some neat front-end software for it that provides for all of the TiVo features (too many to name here), and can still bring it under $200, I'll think about it. But only if I don't have to be a sysadmin to use it. I'm a sysadmin enough at work; I want my PVR to not require an intimate knowledge of the command-line.

      Oh, and don't forget to package it in a nice little black (or silver) box that fits within my entertainment center.

      We won't even get into DirecTiVo here. Mmm, Dolby Digital.
    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mosch (204) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:47PM (#4609262) Homepage
      I'd be interested in seeing how you split out the costs of your "TiVo". I can believe your $200 figure only if you ignore the costs of software development, maintainance, an automatic update system, a usable remote control, a case that fits into a standard A/V system (physically, and visually), system setup time, high-quality audio/video input and output, high-quality encoding/decoding, customer support, ability to control a cable or satellite receiver via IR or Serial, a reliable source of guide data, and the ability to record by things other than channel/time.

      Call me cynical, but I don't believe for a second that you can satisfy all the above requirements for a $200/box flat fee.

  • I, for one, am not quite sure at what point the following capabilities will be included with all standard cable television subscriptions.

    - Auto recording of your shows while you're away, allowing you to watch TV at your convenience (just tell Tivo you like TechTV and it'll archive every episode automagically)

    - Ability to pause live TV and play them back time-delayed when you return (great for bathroom and junk food breaks whenever you need one)

    Yes, maybe a decade or so down the road these will be commonplace, but for the next 7 years, I wouldn't ditch my Tivo
  • Unconvincing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... o spam>gmail.com> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:53PM (#4608684) Homepage
    Despite the relatively low market penetration, I am a bit suspicious as to the motives behind this story. Doesn't AdAge have a vested interest in seeing devices such as TiVo fail? This article has a decent analysis of the financial aspect behind the subscription model, but nary a word about the impact on advertisers from the loss of revenue due to skipping commercials? Poor jornalism, this should be filed under op-ed for ad-execs and the major networks.

  • TiVO uses Linux on a custom PowerPC chip fabricated by IBM that includes MPEG-2 encode/decode on the chip and the source is available from TiVO website. When the cable/satellite companies start building PVRs into their boxes, what OS do you think they will use - Windows Embedded? Perhaps QNX but most certainly Linux. More Linux jobs, hooray for Open Source!

    Too bad that TiVO may not be able to recover their investment or may have to morph into a PVR system software developer/consultant. But their name will live forever has the few OpenSource ventures that 'changed the world'. And that ain't so bad.
  • I don't know about others, but DirectTV is not rolling out "their own", they are partnering with... Tivo.
  • The article was written by AdAge. They hate such PVR devices. It's bad for the advertising business.
    TiVo allows you to fast forward over ads, although legal pressure prevented TiVo from skipping ads altogether.
  • Okay, so they're saying people shouldn't buy Tivo because people are going to stop buying Tivo. Aren't they causing people to stop buying Tivo by telling people Tivo will fail because people aren't going to buy it?

    Anybody can make anything sound bad by lining up the negatives.
  • patents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishlet (93611)
    I'm assuming Tivo doesn't own a patent on their TV recording technology. This will be good for us in the long run but bad for them because as soon as something becomes a commodity, it's hard to make a buck off it. If they were smarter, I think they would have patented the thing (or bought the patent from whoever owns it) and licensed it out for zero to little cash until a large market for such devices arises. Then charge a reasonable rate for a proven/valuable technology.
    • Re:patents (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zathrus (232140)
      I'm assuming Tivo doesn't own a patent on their TV recording technology

      You'd be assuming very [uspto.gov], very [uspto.gov] wrong [uspto.gov]. Not that any searching [google.com] would have told you this [slashdot.org]. Nope.

      These are just the three most recently granted patents. TiVo has others. Between TiVo and Replay pretty much every function and capability of a PVR is patented.
  • by SquirrelCrack (522382) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @12:59PM (#4608738)
    Every time I think a product is really cool it fails, and if I think it sucks it ends up dominating the market...

    I loved my Amiga....

    hated AOL...

    I should hire out as a consultant :)

  • They Wish (Score:2, Redundant)

    by 4of12 (97621)

    If you consider

    1. the source of the story and
    2. that many TiVo users enjoy skipping through advertisements and
    3. that advertising forms the bread and butter livelihood of the readers of that particular periodical,
    then the bent of that story is fairly predictable.
  • by K8Fan (37875) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:02PM (#4608772) Journal

    I have a DirecTivo, and love it. I couldn't imagine life without it. Recently, I got a letter from DirecTV that from now on, my DirecTivo service was going to be referred to as "DirecTV PVR" and the monthly charge was going to be cut in half.

    OK. The service hasn't changed. It's still Tivo software and interface. The monthly cost is half of what it was. The only down side is it records more "Special Preview" nonsense from DirecTV. Tivo still gets paid, and DirecTV has more reason to sell this great technology. What's the problem supposed to be?

    • What he said.

      The Tivo/DirectTV partnership means that Tivo should be around as long as DirecTV is. Not that that is a sure thing (hear about the near extortion by the NFL for next year's Direct Ticket licen$ing?), but I can't believe that Satellite TV won't exist even in today's pro-cable-monoply climate.

      Furthermore, that "Special Preview" promotional stuff exists on a portion of your hard drive separate from your recorded programs so it doesn't "take up any space." So like you say, what's the problem?
  • by eudaemon (320983) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:10PM (#4608871)
    And in other news buggy whip manufacturers predict a strong comeback in
    2003.

    Of course adworld hates the Tivo, it is the best way to circumvent their revenue model.

    There are probably less Bentley automobiles and Lear Jets than outhouses too... is anyone
    predicting their imminent doom?

    Tivos are a luxury item that threaten the status quo, what's funny is adworld feels the need to
    denounce them now when market penetration is so
    light... methinks they doth protest too much.

  • Word of mouth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gamartin (145290) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:11PM (#4608873)

    TiVo is an example where word-of-mouth should be working. Whenever we have friends over they're curious about the TiVo, but they don't really understand why it's good. We let them test drive it, and invariably they go away impressed; sometimes it's pausing live TV when the phone rings, sometimes it's looking at "Now Showing" and seeing your favorite shows waiting for you to watch, sometimes it's looking through the Season Pass Manager or the search for programs features or the suggestions or the interactive program guide. Regardless, TiVo presents an impressive package and our friends go away impressed.

    We have DirecTV with TiVo integrated; the integrated package really is nice and simple. My wife is anti-TV and anti-technology, but she loves TiVo because it makes the small amount of TV she does watch simpler and more flexible. We find the service easily worth $10/month (and the price recently went down).

    People at TiVo must be scratching their heads since they have such a great product and people just don't get it; word-of-mouth and trying it out seem to be the only ways people get it.

  • Media Bias (Score:2, Insightful)

    by michael_lacy (620290)
    Advertising Age published this article. Tivo et al allow people to stop watching stupid advertisements. If advertisements become irrelevant, than Advertising Age becomes irrelevant. Therefore it is in AA's best interest to try to convince people that technologies such as Tivo are failing so that fewer people will buy them. It's market manipulation plain and simple.
  • Here's their revenue stream * Licensing to DirecTV and others of a very smooth technology and a very nice layout of their remote (could use a few more buttons for when I use my DVD, etc.) * Quick bux from lifetime subscribers, but that's killing the golden goose * Slow bux from monthly subscribers (can DirecTiVos even get a lifetime sub?) * Paid downloaded commercials -- wouldn't be so bad if I could wipe 'em from the main window once I'd seen 'em * Fees from "Click here to record" on commercials -- rarely seen these days. I think only NBC uses it. Given that some VCRs have 30-sec skip, some TV's have 'mute for 30 sec' mode, the adsellers should have little to complain about TiVo specifically. And since I TiVo many programs without commercials (Rough Science to Sopranos), it doesn't apply at all! Advertisers should learn one thing: grab me quick in the first few seconds, and I might watch the whole commercial, or display really really cool stuff in the last few seconds and I might back up. ABC has had advertising in the margins during the "Next Week On" segments for years. And if you TiVo users out there don't know already: Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select for 30-sec skip mode on the SkipToEnd button. Every software upgrade nukes that setting, so it's good to memorize.
  • Licence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by codemonkey_uk (105775) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:18PM (#4608947) Homepage
    In the UK BSKYB have licensed the TiVo technology to make their Sky+ boxes. So TiVo are alive an well as long as BSKYB is alive and well, and seeing as BSKYB is the dominant satellite television network in the UK, I'd say that in the medium to long term, TiVo is pretty save as a company, if not a consumer unit.
    • In the UK BSKYB have licensed the TiVo technology to make their Sky+ boxes.
      Sorry but you're wrong. Sky+ boxes use NDS [nds.com] technology, not TiVo. There are many differences, the main one being that TiVo records video/audio data as an MPEG file which can then be played back, whereas Sky+ records the actual satellite bitstream and then decodes on playback.

      What might have confused you (gah that sounds awful, sorry, don't mean to be rude!) is that BSkyB does some of the marketing for TiVo in the UK and also handles customer service.
  • More people have sex with animals than read "Advertising Age". What this means for ad-copy writers has not yet been determined.
  • If the VCR is being replaced by DVD as ABC said on the news last night, then a "Tivo" becomes the obvious thing to have once there's no more VCR in cluttering your space. Half the point of a VCR - playing rentals - has gone away now that half the households have DVD. The other half is better filled by Tivo than VCR, especially since the DVD has us spoiled for digital "quality."
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:31PM (#4609076) Homepage
    Why aren't there cheap generic PVRs yet? This should have happened by now. Integrating a PVR into a DVD player would provide a nice value-added feature.

    Or is there something in the DVD agreement that prohibits this?

    • Panasonic has a 40GB model with a DVD recorder that lets you record to/from the DVD and the HD with VCR-like functionality. But its $1k.

      And as the Tivo zealots continually remind me, it's not the recording capabilities of Tivo that are so great, its the guide and other advanced recording options of the service that make it worthwhile.

      Even without the DVD player/recorder integration, you'd think that an HDD-based recorder with VCR-type functionality wouldn't be too tough to make, although I have a hard time seeing it selling for less than $300 -- maybe closer to $500.
  • I own three TiVos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wboatman (126052)
    Well two working, and one for parts, and I have to agree that Tivo (the company) is the walking dead.

    I declined to buy lifetime subscriptions to their service since I didn't expect them to be around that long, and it was the lifetime of the individual TiVo box. There is a reason I have a TiVo that is just for parts.

    Both of the working ones have web access, network cards, and two huge drives. I plan to add the 4 drive adapter in the near future.

    It was a cool idea. But with several open source projects to build a PVR out of commodity parts, and the potential to tie several homebuilt ones together in a PVR cluster, I really don't see what TiVo has to offer to the people that are most likely to buy a TiVo. Especially since you can get TV guide information with any of the ATI TV tuner cards.

    It is a shame that TiVo (the company) got to spend all of that money showing people what could be done, only to be trampled by all of the cable box and satellite decoder manufacturers running out to implement the "TiVo" idea.

    Such is life.
  • The Reason Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kettleboy (551122) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:35PM (#4609112) Homepage
    Maybe the magazine/author had an axe to grind but the fact is, Tivo and ReplayTV has never had a very large market penetration. In fact, I don't personally know of any one who owns either one.

    I think the reason is simply price. I would love to be able to use the features of these 2 products, pause live tv, skip commericals on playback, very easy recording of tv shows. But the truth is, this type of convenience is not worth the $400, $500, $600, or more that they charge for the unit. That's in addition to the monthly fee.

    For approximately the same amount of money, I can take my whole family camping every weekend thru the summer and have a lot more fun!

    Also, I don't think it helped ReplayTV when their units began requiring broadband access in order to download the program guide and software updates. Most people in the country still don't have broadband access.
    • In fact, I don't personally know of any one who owns either one.

      I know several people that do. So much for anecdotal evidence.

      I think the reason is simply price. I would love to be able to use the features of these 2 products, pause live tv, skip commericals on playback, very easy recording of tv shows. But the truth is, this type of convenience is not worth the $400, $500, $600, or more that they charge for the unit. That's in addition to the monthly fee.

      First, a 60 hour TiVo unit is $300 at Best Buy (after $50 rebate). Second, for years, VCRs cost more than a TiVo does now and they constantly grew in popularity for time-shifting television shows -- despite being less convenient, less reliable, having a much smaller capacity, and producing video of lower quality.

      For approximately the same amount of money, I can take my whole family camping every weekend thru the summer and have a lot more fun!

      So why not do both. And when you come home from your camping trips, the shows you enjoy will be waiting for you.

      I will never understand how people prioritize things. I remember talking to someone who is a smoker, with a habit that probably costs him around $2,000 per year, and he told me that TiVo was too expensive. I see other people who spend a fortune for large projection televisions and then channel surf for hours desperately looking for something to watch -- rather than just buying a TiVo and watching what they want when they want to. Why would someone sit through ten minutes of commercials in every hour of programming that they see. Isn't their time worth anything to them? And the purpose of TV is to entertain. Commercials and an inability to watch what I want when I want detract from the entertainment value.

      In closing, I think that it's a good deal for the money.
  • But the question we really want answered is "How many outhouses have Tivos?"
  • The only way Tivo will "lose" is if PVRs become illegal, or no one uses them. Neither of which will happen.
  • by Spittoon (64395) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:45PM (#4609230) Homepage
    ...when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.
  • It was the Tivo UI that really made my decision between Tivo and ReplayTV. I saw a new
  • by ohboy-sleep (601567) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:52PM (#4609304) Homepage
    OK, hear me out. I'm just not getting the whole "TiVo is da bomb and if you're still using VCRs then you're human refuse" tone. It's not just from these posts but in general.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but there is a limit to the amount of space you can store programs on a TiVo. What happens if I want to see an episode of Alias I recorded three weeks ago, or the Laverne & Shirley christmas episode I caught on Nick at Nite last year, or "All You Need is Cash" I happened to catch five years ago?** I'm pretty much stuck.

    While the commercial skip feature is nice, it's not so much better than the fast forward button to warrant an additional expense. (Plus as an added bonus you can pop in an old tape from several years back. Commercials make fun nostalgia.)

    Plus with a VCR, I can tell my friend, "Hey I missed Buffy last night, did you tape it?". Again, I could be wrong, but I don't know if TiVo offers such a feature.

    And one argument I've seen in like half-a-dozen posts is how "bulky" VCRs are. Is 3 square feet of shelf space really that precious?

    Now I'm not saying Tivos are bad. I'm just stating VCRs are good too.

    ** Feel free to make fun of my recording choices :)
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @02:52PM (#4609961) Homepage
      Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but there is a limit to the amount of space you can store programs on a TiVo.

      Yes... and there's a limit to how much space on a VCR tape too. Or your computer's hard drive. TiVos are upgradable (and if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, there are companies that will do it for you now and give you a warrantee on their work and/or the unit). We have two TiVos. They came with 30 GB HDs, and we could store about 24 hours of video on them in medium resolution. We did occasionally run into problems with space, since a couple week vacation could cause older programs to be deleted.

      I upgraded both with 80G drives, giving them 110G total and roughly 100 hours of video. I have never had anything deleted before I could watch it now. I have programs that are over 6 months old on my TiVo still. My wife has stuff over a year old (or maybe we finally dumped it to tape, I don't recall). Heck, I still have 6+ pages of "Suggestions" recorded by the TiVo, which is over half the storage space.

      And if I ever wanted to dump something to tape, then I can - TiVo has a "Record to VCR" feature that makes this easy. But I'd be more likely to rip the video out to my PC and store it on SVCD or something. Which you can't do very easily with a VCR.

      Plus with a VCR, I can tell my friend, "Hey I missed Buffy last night, did you tape it?". Again, I could be wrong, but I don't know if TiVo offers such a feature

      I can, and have, dumped stuff to tape from my TiVo for friends that missed something - even friends with a TiVo. With Replay you can just send them the episode via Internet. You can, theoretically, do the same with TiVo, but it's not officially supported or condoned.

      Yes, that means you'll need a VCR too. I have to dig mine up and pray it still works when I actually need it.

      While the commercial skip feature is nice, it's not so much better than the fast forward button to warrant an additional expense

      Commercial skipping is really one of the lesser features of PVRs... it's hard for people to get this, but it's true. I'd be deeply annoyed if it wasn't there of course. The real feature is that a TiVo frees you from having to watch TV except when you want to. You don't have to worry about when shows are on - TiVo takes care of it. You don't have to worry about having enough tape in the VCR - the HD records more than any tape. You don't have to label tapes because TiVo has the program guide data already. Watching something live? Phone rings? No problem, hit pause. Or maybe you missed that last line - hit 6 second rewind. And everything's instant.

      About the best comparison I can give you is how much better CDs are compared to tapes. Instant access, cleaner, faster, better.
  • Commentary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dup_account (469516) on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @01:54PM (#4609331)
    1) Gee, an advertising magazine saying that a product that allows skipping advertising is going to fail. There's a surprise.

    2) If you don't own Tivo, you don't understand. I have a DirectTv/Tivo system. I can record two things at once, program wish lists, record something after it starts (I'm watching it, decide the wife would like it, so tell it to record the whole program). it records stuff in free space, based on what I watch, some of which I actually watch.
  • Shocking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aallan (68633) <alasdair@@@babilim...co...uk> on Wednesday November 06, 2002 @02:27PM (#4609673) Homepage

    An advertising journal predicts that a piece of technology that lets you skip ads will fail? Well I'm shocked, deeply shocked I must say... its not as if they have an axe to grind, is it?

    Al.

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