TiVo Sales Update

Dave Zatz —  April 13, 2006

1. TiVo Lifetime Service subscriptions will no longer be available for sale after 4/15. So call now to activate or forever hold your peace. If you happen to have picked up a Lifetime Service card at a Best Buy or ebay, they will be honored once the Series 3 and Series 2 Dual Tuner come out. Additionally, the few remaining “loophole” Series 1 owners will be able to transfer Lifetime Service to the Series 3 or S2 DT.

2. Get a free refurb TiVo box by pre-paying for a year of service here.

3. Get a free TiVo-branded wireless adapter by signing up for one of the new plans. They may want to tweak their database since I don’t need to be welcomed back — two active (and networked) units are currently on my account. FYI the link (below) TiVo emailed me places the bundle directly in your cart and the fine print says, “Offer only available on tivo.com to people who received this offer email.” Your mileage may vary…

4. As you may have noticed, those dual tuner models have vanished from most online retailers. Once the Echostar trial has concluded and Lifetime Service is no longer being offered, we’ll probably hear something.

5. Also on tap in the near future… the updated TiVo Desktop software for iPod and PSP conversion and synchronization will be available for a small fee. Actually the software itself will be free, but you’ll have to purchase a serial number to unlock those PSP/iPod features.

TiVo And DirecTV Extend Pact

Dave Zatz —  April 12, 2006

Huge, huge news! While not unexpected given DTV’s slow start in transitioning customers off to TiVo and the associated expenses, this is very good news for both TiVo as a company and for DirecTV TiVo customers. The original agreement was set to expire in about a year, at which point TiVo would have stopped providing service to DirecTV. Of particular interest, and surely no coincidence during the Echostar case, is the mention of a patent rights truce.

Apr 12, 2006 08:00 ET

TiVo and DIRECTV Agree to Extend Relationship for Three Years

Agreement Guarantees Quality Service for Existing DIRECTV TiVo Subscribers; Also Addresses Intellectual Property

ALVISO, Calif., April 12 — TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) , the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVR), and DIRECTV, Inc. (NYSE:DTV) , the nation’s leading digital television service provider, today announced a three-year extension to the TiVo-DIRECTV commercial agreement.

Existing DIRECTV TiVo subscribers will be able to continue to receive the award-winning TiVo(R) service, with TiVo providing ongoing maintenance and support. In addition, TiVo and DIRECTV agree not to assert patent rights against the other. The agreement also extends the advertising relationship between the two companies. DIRECTV will continue to service existing DIRECTV receivers with TiVo service. While specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, the recurring monthly economics of the agreement are similar to the economics for DIRECTV receivers with TiVo service activated since 2003.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with DIRECTV that will allow us to continue to provide our service to the more than 2 million DIRECTV TiVo households,” said TiVo CEO Tom Rogers. “As the pioneer in the DVR market, we have created a service that is highly valued by consumers because of our technology, the wide range of our unique features and the unparalleled ease of our user experience. This agreement reflects TiVo’s popularity among DIRECTV subscribers and importantly respects the value of our intellectual property as well.”

“By extending our agreement with TiVo, we are ensuring quality support for DIRECTV customers who already own a DIRECTV TiVo unit,” said Romulo Pontual, DIRECTV’s chief technology officer. “We are pleased to cooperate with TiVo in a way that will best serve DIRECTV and our DIRECTV TiVo customers.”

To recap: TiVo has sued Echostar for infringing on their “time warping” patent. After a delay last fall, the trial finally began about two weeks ago.

Echostar has focused their defense on Dish DVR’s technical variations (“media switch“) while TiVo has been playing the role of David (versus Goliath) and is seeking $87 million in damages — a number calculated from theoretical licensing fees and potential customers.

Arguments are complete and the jury will receive instructions from the judge tomorrow to begin their deliberations. Regardless of the outcome, you can bet there will be appeals… not to mention Echostar has pending litigation against TiVo.

Marshall News Messenger says: After nine days of mind-boggling technical testimony, both sides rested Tuesday in TiVo Inc.’s patent infringement lawsuit against EchoStar Communications Corp., owner of Dish Network. U. S. District Judge David Folsom dismissed the five-man, five-woman jury shortly before 3 p.m., instructing them to return 9 a.m. Thursday and “bring a sack lunch.”

Claiming its co-founder Jim Barton was the inventor of an affordable, easy-to-use digital video recorder (DVR), TiVo is seeking $87 million in lost sales and royalties from EchoStar. According to Barton’s testimony, he and TiVo co-founder Mike Ramsay contacted EchoStar executives early on in the hopes of working out a distribution deal similar to one which TiVo negotiated with DirecTV. Barton said he explained his product in detail to EchoStar engineers and, at their request, left a prototype DVR with them. And while they promised to return the television set-top box within a couple of days, Barton said he has not seen it since.

Deal O’ The Day: Slingbox

Dave Zatz —  April 4, 2006

Today is the first time I’ve seen the Slingbox for under $199! (Retail is $249.) Dell has it for only $179 with free shipping by applying this $70 off coupon code: 7S35$VG845N79N.

UPDATE: Expired.

This is one of the first commercial HME applications I’ve run across…

Web-a-Photo (who?) allows you to share, edit, and order prints of your photos online. Their free beta HME app, which must be installed on your PC, serves up those web photos on TV via TiVo. I can’t say I’m overly enthused about this product considering the app is hosted locally and my photos are happily ensconced on Flickr. TiVo Desktop software and Galleon both already provide decent options for displaying personal pics… and apps.tv hosts a Flickr tag photo browser for the voyeurs amongst us.

(As usual, HME apps are limited to networked Series 2 TiVo units — version 7.2.2 of the system software required in this case.)

Web-a-Photo says: Sharing photos on a PC is great, but PCs often have limitations. Imagine trying to show photos of your newborn to 10 family members via a small, 15 inch PC screen. One family member is too nearsighted to see the screen, another is too tall and is blocking everyone else’s view, etc.. Luckily, Web-A-Photo has the solution that will prevent a family feud. Web-A-Photo has teamed up with TiVo® to allow easy viewing of photos on your TV screen. This feature is easy to use and available now!

Space Shuttle Launches in HD

Dave Zatz —  March 30, 2006

HD Beat is reporting Mark Cuban’s HDNet will broadcast upcoming Space Shuttle, and some expendable rocket, launches in HD through 2010. Very cool! Well… very cool if the Shuttle ever gets off the ground again.

Slingbox Released in Canada

Dave Zatz —  March 30, 2006

Any Canadian readers in the house? You can now pick up a Slingbox for $299 CAD, which roughly equates to the US list price of $249 — though on several occasions it’s been offered as low as $199 USD.

Sling Media says: Sling Media, Inc., a digital lifestyle consumer electronics products company, today announced that its award-winning Slingbox™ is now available across Canada from premiere retailers including Best Buy, Future Shop and London Drugs. Sling Media is working together with Keating Technologies, an award winning sales, marketing and support outsourcer and Ingram Micro, the leading Canadian distributor, to launch the Slingbox in the Canadian market. The Slingbox is available for order online immediately and in retail stores in April for $299 CAD.