TiVo Preps Vox Offering

Dave Zatz —  May 25, 2017 — 3 Comments

As TiVo continues to find itself, post Rovi merger, details have emerged on what looks like a new retail-focused offering called Vox.

TiVo has submitted six trademark requests with the USPTO for both the TiVo Bolt Vox and the TiVo Mini Vox. While multiple entities have seemingly confirmed to me that “Vox” is a thing, I’ve got nothing else to go on at this point… although I’m always willing to speculate. And one area in which TiVo has started to the lag the competition is in voice control. Comcast has offered an Xfinity voice remote for years, as one example, and DISH just brought Alexa to the Hopper. So given TiVo’s deficiency, the Latin origins of “vox” along with its current day usage, years of voice research at the original TiVo, and some strong natural language processing capabilities from the Rovi contingent, voice seems like a solid possibility.

Beyond the back-end infrastructure, how and where would TiVo deliver Vox voice services? An updated remote control seems like an obvious choice, as Apple, Roku, Amazon and others provide. Yet why re-brand Bolt and Mini hardware? I suppose they could go that route if it’s a pack-in, but a more compelling approach might be new set-top hardware with always-listening microphones as implemented by Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the new ecobee4 smart thermostat. And the Mini is long overdue for a refresh, both in terms of its industrial design and corporate promises of 4K streaming to match its Bolt DVR hub.

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news…

As disseminated by Cord Cutters News, the new Roku 7.6 OS update resolves at least one “spam button” annoyance. When you accidentally sit on your Roku remote or your toddler grabs it, you won’t necessarily be dumped into a paid partner’s streaming app. Instead, while video is playing, you’ll be offered up a confirmation screen (as shown above, which doesn’t seem to time out) before making the leap. Sadly, Roku still doesn’t provide the ability to remap their growing list of rotating affiliates… to regain valuable real estate from a variety of shuttered services, like Rdio and Target Ticket (as shown below). While Roku remains a compelling player in this space many of their recent product decisions are driven by advertising and, by comparison, the similarly priced Fire TV offers a superior, clutter-free remote (that obviously pitches Amazon services via the on-screen interface).

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When TiVo opened their CMS search to all a few weeks back, they left behind traces of an alternate timeline… one where the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition actually made it to launch. And, fortunately for us, an astute reader ferreted out and preserved the details. First glimpsed in August of 2015, the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition was to be the Roamio OTA of the Bolt era — effectively the same generation of DVR hardware, minus a PCMCIA CableCARD apparatus. So whereas the Bolt is largely marketed at cable customers dissatisfied with their provider’s hardware offering, the 500GB Aereo Edition was to target cord cutters as an OTA antenna-only offering — clocking in at a lower $99.99 price point. As of October 2015, TiVo was still intent upon launching the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition, although “Aereo” branding was still in play. I didn’t give it much thought when TiVo’s 2015 “end of year” prediction failed to materialize given their development track record. But after the Roamio OTA resurgence last spring and Mavrik’s unveiling last fall, it seemed likely that the Bolt Aereo Edition had been scrapped in favor of a more Tablo-esque solution and perhaps due to not enough differentiation between the two Bolt models, as the CableCARD model also handles OTA signals.

After seven long years, sources indicate TiVo is poised to finally complete the HDUI menuing system that was originally unveiled with the Premiere back in 2010. Although, it’s not actually clear that Premiere hardware will receive the interface update, whereas it’s confirmed Roamio and Mini will. Beyond updating the remaining standard definition screens to high definition, Roamio and Mini hardware will see an overall refresh that builds upon the flatter visuals of the Bolt, which will also receive the update. Although the timing sure is curious given an even more significant new TiVo interface option also on the docket for 2017… but that’s how they roll.

Given President Trump’s television pedigree and media preoccupation, it should come as no surprise that he’s a big fan of the DVR. In fact, he cites TiVo by name as one of the greatest inventions of all time (although he doesn’t receive RCN cable). And that’s something we can all agree upon, irrespective of party affiliation.

But for now, Trump is focused on his TV. He watches the screen like a coach going over game tape, studying the opposition, plotting next week’s plays. “This is one of the great inventions of all time—TiVo,” he says as he fast-forwards through the hearing.

Trump’s praise is further notable given the crack marketing team at TiVo that once celebrated Macy’s #dumptrump fallout on Twitter along with their intent to “shut him up” by providing “the world’s biggest mute button.”

Lastly, being a non-partisan blog, let us not forget the Clinton’s similar love of TiVo… and Slingbox.

(Thanks Bijan!)

As regulars are well-aware, I love me a good mystery. And Roku just applied with the USPTO to trademark “Tada!” These sorts of filings are generally difficult to decipher, as the descriptions are often broad and vague, providing the company latitude down the road. So Tada! could refer to just about anything from a new marketing slogan, to an improved universal search utilizing recently licensed TiVo patents, another in-house recommendation show, a publishing platform for content distributors, or a full-on streaming video service to take on the likes of Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.

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A trusted source indicates that Spotify, the highly regarded music streaming service, will soon follow in Snapchat’s footsteps with an unexpected foray into hardware. While details on the upcoming “wearable” were not provided, several job listings seemingly provide clues.

Sr Product Manager-Hardware
We are looking for a passionate and seasoned Senior Product Manager that will join the Platform & Partner Experience team working to build frictionless and creative Spotify experiences via fully-connected hardware devices. You will be leading an initiative to deliver hardware directly from Spotify to existing and new customers; a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles. You will define the product requirements for internet-connected hardware, the software that powers it, and work with suppliers/manufacturers to deliver the optimal Spotify experience to millions of users. Above all, your work will affect the way the world experiences music & talk content.

Product Manager – Voice
As a Product Owner for voice you will be responsible for the strategy and execution of Spotify’s voice efforts beyond our core apps. Our tribe is responsible for all Spotify consumer experiences outside of Spotify’s core iOS and Android applications. We focus on areas like desktop, TVs, speakers, cars, wearables, headphones and partner application integrations to make Spotify available wherever our users are. Voice is quickly becoming a key interaction mechanism for control of digital devices and services. Aspects to be considered in this role include voice input and feedback, content resolution, technology choices, and data protection.

Director of Product, Natural Language Understanding

(Remember when Slacker Radio was an actual piece of hardware? Good times!)