Todd Spangler of Multichannel News wrote a thoughtful piece summarizing TiVo’s challenge in reaching a critical mass:
It’s easier to get a DVR from your cable company. And most people prefer to rent, not own, a set-top. Indeed, most DVRs in use today are already supplied by cable companies, according to a Carmel Group study. TiVo’s survival depends on cable. Cable has limited incentives to see it succeed. Does TiVo have a way out?
For quite awhile I really felt like the Comcast deal would “save” TiVo by exposing them to millions of households and filling their coffers with software licensing royalties. But that was before the NY Times started writing about CableCARDs, before the new lower cost HD model was released (spotted for $258 at Circuit City), and before peace was made with DirecTV. With the change in DirecTV leadership, it looks like TiVo will even be providing software updates once again:
Launching in early 2008, the new software download will provide these customers with DVR enhancements offered with the TiVo service, including a Recently Deleted Folder and Overlap Protection(TM), as well as DIRECTV’s Remote Booking feature. In addition, DIRECTV and TiVo will continue to explore ways to bring future enhancements to DIRECTV customers with TiVo receivers.
Who knows where this renewed chumminess might lead? Todd is right in that TiVo needs partners (they’re fighting an unfair battle with companies entrenched in homes), but cable isn’t the only game in town… (and there’s more to the world than just the US).
PS All signs point towards a launch of Comcast’s TiVo software in New England this month. Stay tuned.