Sezmi Joins The Deadpool


We’ve covered the Sezmi television solution for some time. But, alas, they’ll now be joining the likes of Akimbo, ZillionTV, and Moviebeam in the deadpool. From Sezmi’s recent customer outreach:

We regret to inform you that Sezmi is discontinuing its consumer service. As of Monday, September 26, 2011, you will no longer be able to view or record broadcast TV programming through your Sezmi System. However, you will still be able to view movies and shows you have already saved to your Sezmi media recorder. Sezmi has changed its business focus to providing our product and technology platform to service providers, internationally and in the U.S., who are interested in providing broadband video services to their customers. As a result, we are no longer supporting our direct-to-consumer service.

It’s unfortunate, as Sezmi was pushing a “one box” comprised of both Internet, cable without the cable, and broadcast content (along with user profiles!), long before TiVo landed on that marketing approach. But the writing was on the wall and we saw this coming. From my contribution to a TiVo Community discussion on the merits of Sezmi a few months back:

Sezmi shot themselves in the foot with their original plan to license broadcast spectrum and launch only in those select markets (LA was first). They blew a lot of cash on that failed approach and have since adjusted. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t survive beyond 2011. A bummer really, because the market needs more competition not less. But if TiVo can’t make it in retail, no one can.

From the get go, both Mari and I were somewhat skeptical of their grand initial approach and possibility of success given the landscape. Mari’s thoughts back in 2008:

I love the idea of Sezmi but I simply can’t imagine how the enterprise will succeed. These guys have been really innovative, and deserve huge kudos for trying something new. I wish the obstacles in front of them weren’t quite so daunting.

Sezmi hopes to work deals with service providers and carry on. And perhaps they will. But I suspect they’re just delaying the inevitable. My advice? Sell the assets, if possible, and move on to the next challenge.

(via EngadgetHD)

14 thoughts on “Sezmi Joins The Deadpool”

  1. I’m curious to know if the Sezmi DVR can still be used as a glorified VCR, programming by time and channel, or will they just be doorstops?

  2. Link, If the Sezmi system will no longer process broadcast TV signals, I don’t know how someone would go about programming content to be recorded…since that content never hits the box. It would appear that the box is destined to be a doorstop.

  3. The thing that pisses me off is this is the second time they let us know at the last possible minute. When they dropped the cable channels here in LA we got a couple weeks notice. This time we got 2 days notice.

    They should have at least provided us with an alternative EPG service. Such as signing up for something like Schedules Direct. As of know it’s basically a paper weight. I’ll probably try and open it and use the 1TB drive on my pc
    If I can find the right tool to do it. .

    Even though I have a couple of WMC machines I kept the service as a backup DVR which came in handy when my power supply blew up on one of my machines a week ago.

    The thing I really loved about it was the profiles. The kids would log on to their profile and see nothing but their shows. Same thing went for the wife’s and my profile. Really wish WMC has this functionality in Windows 8.

  4. Maybe Tivo should buy them. I like the profile idea. I thought Tivo was going to do that. I’ve not seen anything more about it since the launch of Premiere though.

  5. As I’ve said before, TiVo needs to rethink it’s marketing strategy. No new user is going to plop down $500 for a lifetime subscription and even the $20/month is a lot to ask from consumers who don’t realize they actually pay for their cable box/DVR

    It may be too late though, as Cablevison recently announced that they plan to offer Netflix and Hulu along with their regular line-up. Consumers will opt for the convenience of getting a box from their provider, who’ll also service it.

    TiVo should push to partner with one of the providerrd before they go the way of Sezme, superior interface notwithstanding.

  6. I had the use of a Sezmi DVR box for a short time, and, while it was no TiVo, it was a reasonably competent DVR for OTA recording. I’ve read the responses to my post about time/channel recording and am still confused.

    I don’t recall the exact programming interface, but I thought there was an ability to manual program by time/channel. If that’s all I wanted to do, why do would I need the EPG? Or is this like the TiVo, where they disable ANY capability if you don’t pay the service fee? Why would Sezmi do that if they’re abandoning the box?

    This practice of abandoning hardware after a short time and leaving users high and dry is increasingly common. I’ve had it happen with three photo scanners (HP, Umax and Canon), and now Sezmi.

  7. Well, it seems like there have been at least four rounds of funding… $17.5 million (2007), $33 million (2008), $25 million (2009). and $17.3 million (2010). You know, we talked to the execs on a few occasions who didn’t seem to appreciate our concerns with their strategies given the landscape. Perhaps these investment companies should check in with us (for a much smaller fee) before dropping millions.

    Incidentally, a former coworker of mine interviewed with them back when they were Building B. Wonder what he’d think of them now. Or perhaps with his input, if they’d be somewhere else. Guess we’ll never know.

  8. IMHO: Should have focused on OTA and online and NEVER went down that horrid “cable channels” via closed OTA multiplex, for it was bad consumer experience and terrible complicated business arrangement only offering it in select cities–it went barely beyond L.A.

    And the BIGGEST stumble: hardly any advertising. There are people “blowing” nearly $375 for the rudimentary Channel Master (Echostar product) that operates as a digital VCR–NO NAME BASED RECORDING–but many LOVE the thing because of no monthly fee or believe it was the ONLY alternative to TiVo for OTA only recording. Sezmi’s low price for the system (about $149) along with a very reasonable $5 per month for OTA recording providing a “smart” DVR–name based recording and profiles– far more feature rich than the Channel Master digital VCR masquerading as DVR would certainly have gotten a lot of OTA only folks who had no idea the Sezmi option existed at a full retail price hundreds less than TiVo and $15 less than the TiVo Premiers MANDATORY $19.99 per month (a promotion until November will allow OTA recordings for $9.99, but still about TWICE the monthly cost of Sezmi) would have been an acceptable compromise compared to the rudimentary Channel Master.

    While Channel Master has a new model DVR with better UI, it is still a digital VCR masquerading as a DVR, or just a plain “dumb” DVR.

    Advertising really is EVERYTHING.

  9. Bobby, I agree the marketing push and continued outreach was lacking. By the by, pricing didn’t begin at $150, Sezmi launched at $300 (as you can see in the pic above). The updated lower price point was a sign things weren’t moving and I assume they lost money on every sale. Sezmi’s low monthly fee was also probably subsidized by those large investments to grow a base. But it obviously didn’t work out.

    Marissa, we evaluated the Channel Master when it was sold as the DISH Network/EchoStar DTVPal DVR and we cannot recommend it. They have a potentially better solution coming out this fall which is worth keeping an eye on. Although it’ll probably suffer from the same guide issues.

    Update: I’ve flagged Marissa’s comment as spam. I’ve seen the exact same message in 4 places I frequent and suspect she’s pimping an affiliate code or is otherwise astroturfing, rather than adding to the conversation.

  10. I predict many retailers will be eating credit card charge-backs for the Sezmi hardware.

    I hope Sezmi is prepared for the lawsuits demanding a full refund of the hardware price for those who can’t take the above route.

    That’s what many Replay customers said they would do when DNNA earlier this year threatened to discontinue guide service even to ‘lifetime’ customers (they backed off for now)

    At least with Tivo you can watch everything saved on your Tivo if you stop paying for service.

  11. I can still view local programming via the antennae and even record something if I hit record when the program starts. I can scroll back several hours in whatever channel I left it in. starts. Picture is beautiful and I can pause and fast forward if I get behind. FREE (after I paid for the box, of course)
    It helps that I am line-of-sight to a major transmitter.

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