The Digitalsmiths product seems like the sort of thing TiVo could have built for much less (and perhaps was working on at one point)… not to mention they’ve always pitched THEMSELVES as the recommendation agent. I’m guessing the existing relationships with MSOs plays heavily into the acquisition decision and price. As a gadget blogger, TiVo’s ongoing intentions to serve cable companies and others like a Rovi makes them less interesting. Also, as the guy behind the guy, their brand will continue to be devalued. Way more upside and excitement in retail, but also more risk (and better vision) required.
Wrt to serving cable, I’d expect the NDVR push to have little to no retail component. For years I’ve questioned the value-proposition for consumers to rent an MSO TiVos vs. purchasing one at retail. MSOs still needed to complete against TiVo in these markets. As NDVR becomes a reality, the cloud offering could exceed the capabilities that we see from a stand-alone DVR increasing value-prop. With that said, I still doubt their intentions are to become a pure B2B like Rovi as it would remove their footprint from TWC, Comcast markets that have their own in-house platforms (ODN, X1). The wildcard for me is Charter though – where its not clear if they’re working with Tivo on NDVR or just the CE downloadable security applet. However, Tom Rogers is a big fan of Charter, so it must be one of these driving that affinity.
It will be interesting the path that Tivo takes. I’m interested if we’ll see the TiVo UI stack move into the “App” space (e.g. HTML5), where the retail box SDK still accesses local recordings, but allows the retail and NDVR platforms to share a unified user experience. Last year Netflix announced a similar type UI separation from their platform SDK for the many devices they support. The approach would benefit both market segments and improve agility releasing feature enhancements.