Sling Media Responds To Story

Dave Zatz —  February 11, 2006

Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media, wrote a response to yesterday’s Marketwatch summary. As with my prior interactions with the father of Slingbox, I get the sense Blake is a stand-up guy in touch with both his customers and the market. Kudos for conversing directly with us in forums (AVS, TCF) and the blogosphere.

Blake says: hey dave,

saying that we fear commoditization is a bit much’the most critical thing for us is to stay very focused on delivering great experiences to consumers’that’s what is in our control. in terms of predicting the future, we all know that’s futile�along the way of executing to the best of your abilities, you hope to also get some breaks and make some good decisions�and if you are lucky, you come out on the winning end over the course of years�simple as that.

can we continue to the improve the slingbox? can we continue to make it easier and easier to set up? can we create additional products that consumers love and find entertaining and/or useful?�these are the things that we �worry� about.

it is semi-amusing to get hypothetical / speculative questions like �how long until you are a feature in something else? or how long until you are commoditized?��how the heck is someone supposed to answer that? i think i gave a stupid answer�but that’s the type of answer that is deserving of that type of question. at least that’s my $.02

one other thing�i just read that interview in it’s entirety.

since you and i have talked before, you know that i have nothing but the utmost respect for what tivo has done�my quote that �tivo had religious issues� was taken a bit out of context�and to say that tivo or timeshifting is a �mere add-on� to set top boxes is one of the largest understatements i have heard in long time. that certainly didn’t come from my mouth.

the quote was taken while i was explaining my *general* belief that in the �convergence space�, products over time trend towards consolidation. i also made the point that is NOT always the case�for example, my desktop pc can act as a router, but do i use it that way? of course not�my netgear router does the job wonderfully (well, usually) and is at the right price point / value ratio to justify it’s stand alone existence.

should tivo have embraced licensing their technology on more attractive terms earlier on? perhaps�did they let �religious issues� get in the way of making some of those decisions? perhaps�but i wasn’t there and i don’t know for sure�and as we all know, hindsight is 20/20.

the last time i checked, tivo was still in business, so that story aint over yet either :-)

As reported last month, TiVo’s been busy updating their online scheduling tools. The refreshed TiVo Central Online is available now and features an enhanced, customizable AJAX-animated grid guide with improved search functionality.

As you may recall, BitTorrent began their uphill battle towards legitimacy by partnering with the MPAA last fall to crack down on movie piracy. Now they’re taking it a step further by introducing a video download service with UK cable provider NTL. Once they add a custom storefront, will the service really be much different than an iTunes or Vongo… other than the P2P method of distribution and download?

Reuters says: UK cable firm NTL is teaming up with BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the popular file-sharing software, to test a new service that will let users purchase movies and music video downloads. “We’re working with rightsholders and ISPs because we view ourselves at the center of a lot of the activity going on here,” said BitTorrent Inc. Chief Operating Officer Ashwin Navin. “There’s been a lot of banter about video over the Internet this year, but for BitTorrent it’s a few years old.”

(via GigaOm)

Blake Krikorian, the co-founder and CEO of Sling Media, had an interesting and frank conversation with MarketWatch. Bottom line: Krikorian asserts he has a several year lead until other services add Slingbox features, during which time Sling hopes to innovate and partner before their technology becomes a commodity. Of course, having a healthy awareness of potential pitfalls doesn’t necessarily mean you can evade them…

I highly recommend the article — it’s good reading.

says: “How much time does Sling Media have before your product becomes a feature, like TiVo?” I asked Krikorian, during an interview earlier this week. “A couple years, at least,” he said, with a certain acceptance that if Sling Media’s service catches on, he will not be so arrogant to try and dominate the market alone. “A technologist has to realize that one day what’s been built is a product, the next day it’s a feature,” said Krikorian. “TiVo had religious issues,” he said, suggesting the personal-video-recording pioneer failed to accept that time-shifting would be a mere add-on. Does that mean place-shifting is a feature and will one day be embedded in cable and satellite boxes too?, I asked. “It could,” he responded. “But a set-top box can get embedded into a Slingbox,” he added in jest, but certainly with the quintessential wide-eyed optimism that entrepreneurs possess.

(via PVRWire)

GM wants to build you a car-based multimedia infrastructure. They envision a system for moving content from various home and portable devices into your car for storage, organization, and presentation. Oh yeah, they want to enforce DRM by tying content to your vehicle identification number (VIN) — surely that’s a first!

GM’s Patent Application says: Apparatus are provided for navigation of multimedia content in a vehicle multimedia system having an embedded database of multimedia files. A navigation interface for controlling playback of the multimedia files and includes a processing unit, an input unit coupled to the processing unit, and a display coupled to the processing unit. The processing unit is configured to couple with the embedded database, determine a playback frequency for each of the multimedia files, and generate a playlist of multimedia files based on the playback frequency. The input unit is configured to initiate playback of the playlist. The display is configured to display the playlist.

[0030] The hard drive 32 has an embedded database containing a list of multimedia file content and stores multimedia files such as found on conventional CDs, DVDs, and other storage mediums. Multimedia files may be downloaded to the data storage device 36 from any number of devices. As best shown in FIG. 2, multimedia files may be downloaded to the data storage device 36 from a conventional CD 40, a compressed audio CD 38 that may be used to store compressed digital audio files such as MP3 files or the like, a portable storage/player device 42 such as a DVD player, a video content storage/player device 46 such as a digital video recorder (DVR), and a personal computer 44. In one exemplary embodiment, the multimedia files are stored as compressed files on the hard drive 32.

[0031] To preserve DRM protected multimedia files, a public key encoding system may be used to encrypt such multimedia files. For example, a vehicle identification number (VIN) may be used as the public key. In a wireless transfer configuration, the vehicle’s public key may be transmitted over the wireless network to the remotely connected personal computer 44, portable storage/player device 42, video content storage/player device 46, or remote data storage device 26 (FIG. 1) to be used for encrypting content. For an end-to-end DRM scheme, the originating vehicle, such as the vehicle 12 shown in FIG. 1, may authenticate using the VIN as the public key before transfer of content thereto while also preserving DRM protected content from subsequent transfer out of the vehicle 12.

TiVo Hosts… Speed Dating?

Dave Zatz —  February 9, 2006

This one’s pretty amusing… TiVo is hosting a match-making singles party (free drinks!) at a “hip” San Francisco hotel. I can’t decide if this is marketing genius or lunacy.

TiVo says:
Ever wish your TiVo WishList or TiVo Suggestions could score YOU the perfect match? Come flirt with the possibility of finding your own special someone, “TiVo-style.” PLUS get 2 free drinks AND be automatically entered in a raffle for one of 14 brand-new TiVo boxes with product lifetime subscription!

The event will feature TiVo’s special version of speed dating. Attendees will wear name badges that list their favorite shows and they’ll be given a short list of other TiVo fans in attendance who share their same taste in television programs. Singles can then “fast forward” through the crowd to find their TiVo-suggested match. And guests will be given “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” stickers to privately rate their matches.

Both Sirius and XM have been expanding their sports offerings lately — no doubt to tap into the fanatical multi-gazillion dollar industry. Sirius recently concluded Winter X Games and Super Bowl XL coverage, and moves on to Winter Olympics updates beginning tomorrow. Meanwhile on XM, all 39 games of the World Baseball Classic will be broadcast and Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets a NASCAR show.