Google Acquires SageTV DVR Software Company

Dave Zatz —  June 19, 2011

sage-googletv-dvr

GoogleTV‘s biggest drawback, and an initial source of confusion, given the desire to capture “Input 1″ has been its lack of DVR capabilities. And it appears Google is prepared to address that shortcoming via their just announced acquisition of SageTV, the makers of HTPC DVR software and CE extenders. As announced on the updated SageTV site:

Since 2002, we’ve worked to change the TV viewing experience by building cutting-edge software and technology that allows you to create and control your media center from multiple devices. And as the media landscape continues to evolve, we think it’s time our vision of entertainment management grows as well. By teaming up with Google, we believe our ideas will reach an even larger audience of users worldwide on many different products, platforms and services.

Many existing SageTV customers appear rightfully apprehensive about the acquisition. Perhaps exacerbated by the immediate shuttering of the SageTV storefront and excision of all website product info. However, the Sage team is fired up – and who can blame them? I’m hopeful they and Google will do the right thing by keeping the guide data flowing for the HTPC userbase. However, I suspect SageTV as a brand will cease to exist as Google immediately puts their new employees to work porting DVR concepts and code to various Android platforms. And it may not be as difficult as you imagine given Sage’s work on those aforementioned extender devices… which are Linux-based, running embedded Java (according to SageTV guru Brent Evans). Both Google and the landscape are different, so I expect this relationship to bear fruit in a way Yahoo’s acquisition of Meedio never did.

(via Engadget)

23 responses to Google Acquires SageTV DVR Software Company

  1. Much forum and blog chatter is fixated on the placeshiting, Slingbox-esque angle. But I think it’s simpler than that – Google wants DVR capabilities and through the purchase inherits a seasoned team for possibly chump change (by Google standards), compared to say the cash-flush TiVo. Congrats to Sage! Their product will live on and they can focus on that product rather than survival (sales).

  2. This is good news.

  3. Ah, poor snakebitten TiVo.

    The day they finally vanquish ReplayTV coincides with the day that a much more fearsome dragon is born.

    TiVo better start thinking about ways to make me feel happier about being a customer of theirs…

  4. Agreed. Brent asked me what I thought of the acquisition… I said bad for him as a SageTV user, but potentially real good for me. ;)

  5. So, I thought the FCC likely had teeth on CableCARD even prior to this news, but I wonder if the additional backup ammo this news will end up giving the FCC on the topic might start to convince the doubters?

  6. Yeah I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this. I originally planned on buying the Blu-Ray player with GTV built in but wasn’t impressed. I really hope Google develops the platform now like they should. It will also give them a good base should Allvid ever become reality.

    It will really be interesting to see how Google handles this. It might also put pressure on Microsoft to do more with Media Center.

    In the end though it is a shame these companies don’t all work together to compete against the cable companies.

  7. My feeling is that google probably acquired sagetv for their patent portfolio. They haven’t been sued for timeshifting, so they must have some significant protection there.

  8. I don’t think Sage has any patents. Do a patent search on SageTV, Frey Technologies, or Jeffrey Kardatzke. You’ll only get one relevant hit, which does actually seem to be the correct Jeffrey Kardatzke, but from his pre-SageTV days.

    Sage was definitely not first to do timeshifting or placeshifting. I don’t really know what the IP situation is, but I have to assume that the patents are quite a bit more specific than patenting the general idea of timeshifting.

  9. I wonder how they escaped litigation? Maybe they were seen as small potatoes. Google won’t be.

  10. Is this only on computers? or will the dvr feature ever work on a logitech google revue with a software update? or will i have to buy a new box? sorry i just never heard of sage tv.

  11. Sage TV is “HTPC” software that currently runs on PCs, Macs, and Linux along with the extender boxes I mentioned in the article. I assume Sage was purchased in part to power a future generation of GoogleTV boxes. Maybe you could add a USB tuner to your Revue, but I doubt Google would go down that path and we might not see any (public) action at all in 2011.

  12. The first thought that went through my mind when I read the news was, “Sage users are going to be pissed.” One of great things about SageTV was an overabundance of mods/plug-ins (e.g. commercial skip) and I’m skeptical that Google will make it as easy to implement.

    On the other hand, I’m now more optimistic about GoogleTV and curious to see what Google does with Sage assets.

    Now, how long before Google acquires Boxee? It’d be even easier to combine Boxee with GoogleTV because both run on same Intel hardware, IIRC.

  13. Might want to note here how long it was from Apple’s acquisition of LaLa (end of 2009) to the rollout of iTunes match (a subset of the capabilities of LaLa, in particular with no streaming) later this year. Took them two years.

    I’m not clear what Google acquired Sage for. Is it for the DVR software? The placeshifting? The people and experience coding UIs and so forth, in particular on embedded CPUs?

    I assume Sage TV as it is defined is dead. Users should be making plans to move to something else within a year.

    Rakesh Agrawal (SnapStream) posted his “thoughts” on the acquisition:

    http://rake.sh/blog/2011/06/19/my-take-on-googles-acquisition-of-sagetv/

    Personally I don’t find them very compelling, so not sure they offer much guidance. The one thing he says that does seem true is that DVR functionality doesn’t fit with Google’s DNA. That Google believes in an all on demand, all the time world. That seems right, but whether it dictates Google’s moves here is another question.

    DVR content has the ads that were on the TV when you recorded them. Part of the asset. Easy to skip over. On Demand has new ads, targeted specifically to you. Easy to prevent you from skipping them. Likely something Google would feel strongly about given where they make their money.

    But like you say Dave, if they want Input 1 ownership, and the whole integrating with the DVR thing hasn’t worked out so well (except with Dish), then maybe this is the only way forward.

    Certainly a Google TV with Placeshifting would be more compelling than the current product though. And a central Google TV in one room with cheap receiver boxes in the other rooms would make some sense too. Except for that whole “live” news/sports thing.

    It would certainly be AWESOME (I think) if Google actually built a Google DVR, took on cable card and AllVid and all that and pushed the US market forward into the future in a way we’re currently unable to accomplish. Just not certain that’s what’s going to happen.

  14. Dave:

    Whats up with the research float overs on the site?

    Something called scorecard research popped up over the content, sigh.

  15. One of the companies I work with on placing ads periodically runs surveys. The last time I inquired, it was small, displayed in the bottom, and supposedly only hits a small percent of visitors. Normally I’d follow up with them, but am heading into surgery today and have other things on my mind. So feel free to ignore and remind me next week if it’s still a problem.

  16. “am heading into surgery today and have other things on my mind.”

    Vaya con dios.

  17. I’m awake after the general anesthesia but not yet loopy from pains meds, so figured I’d check in. I want Chucky to sleep soundly tonight, ZNF will live to fight another day.

  18. PS think you’re right about the simple dedicated eReader. Wishing I had the smaller and more ergonomic Nook Touch over my Kindle as I anticipate being stuck in bed a few days.

  19. The dead tree form factor has much sweeter ergonomics and UI for reading in bed. Much more cuddly.

    E-readers will eventually triumph in the marketplace since “good enough” usually beats “better”, but there is something nice about “better” while you can get it…

    (I just finished my third reading of my paperback of The Savage Detectives, and I think I finally understand what’s going on with the Quim character. Fun reading, though 2666 is more of a masterpiece, and is probably a better place to start on Bolaño. And with their special un-whispernet service, Amazon will hand deliver the dead tree form factor version to your door tomorrow morning for only $4 shipping if you’re a Prime subscriber.)

  20. Does Sage really only show 1.5hrs of guide data per page on HD sets?

  21. Wishing you a speedy recovery Dave!

  22. this is good reading

  23. Get well soon, Dave! What’s the restocking policy on Nooks? Perhaps, you could do a test-drive :)