TiVo Developer Channel Courts Third Party Apps


As TiVo ramps up their Platform Sofware Development Kit (SDK), it appears they’ve settled on a logo and name. As described by TiVo Art Director Trevor Dubbert:

This logo mark for the TiVo Developer Channel is a branding project to promote the creation of third party software apps.

The TiVo Premiere didn’t actually live up to its original “One Box” billing, but the addition of features like Xfinity On Demand and a solid stable of updated apps could shift the balance. And Megazone reports TiVo’s new SDK program is on track to launch “this fall” – driven by a full time employee.

As to the logo itself, Trevor says:

In discussions with TiVo’s Product Manager, we came up with the idea of representing the brand name with binary code. The logo’s silhouette shape helps it to be recognizable as TiVo. With the lines of code it gives a nod to software developers who understand how to read binary.

While some may find the binary code representation of “TiVo” a tired play, investor Sam Biller (who dug up this story!) thinks it looks pretty good and I have to say that branding the program is a positive development, boding well for TiVo and their customers.

25 thoughts on “TiVo Developer Channel Courts Third Party Apps”

  1. At least there is some progress. I wish they would at least release more details even without the tools. It will be interesting to see what is and isn’t allowed and possible.

  2. From the SDK placeholder page:

    What types of apps can developers look forward to building?

    Apps that run on the TiVo box itself to bring new experiences to TiVo users. Examples include the current Netflix, Pandora, and HuluPlus apps available on TiVo today.

    Apps that run on mobile and tablet devices and interact with the TiVo box locally. Like TiVo’s own apps on iOS and Android, developers will be able to create engaging new ways to interact with TiVo users on “second screen” devices.

    Apps that run on the Web and interact with the TiVo box and/or services through the cloud. Similar to remote scheduling at ZAP2It.com, developers can build customized and convenient ways to bridge the Web and TiVo experiences.

  3. “TiVo’s new SDK program is on track to launch “this fall” – driven by a full time employee.”

    Yowza. A full time employee.

    Why do I sometimes get the impression that TiVo runs their entire (non-legal) operations out of a garage somewhere?

    That said, this is obviously good news. Though if I were TiVo, I’d have gotten started on the SDK the minute I shipped the first Premiere. Seems kinda important…

  4. Yeah, that one FTE is at once both notable and amusing. You do need someone to own and evangelize (internally and externally) to make it work.

  5. “As to the logo itself”

    It’s not bad.

    But I’d have tried to go with some kind of normal happy TiVo logo sitting at a computer with a coffee cup doing some coding. Maybe a tongue sticking out of the side of its mouth in happy rapid productivity. Could’ve been sly.

  6. The FTE thing means they’re at least spending some real money to push this thing internally. This isn’t the first time TiVo attempted to get third parties interested in their platform, remember the HME? Yeah me either.

    I still think this isn’t a great idea. They should have worked with someone like Roku to take advantage of their already-existing developer base.

  7. I’m guessing that TiVo has some work to do with respect to getting the API/SDK ready for a more general development community. I suspect the delay is more related to that versus the number of full-time employees working the effort.

  8. “I’m guessing that TiVo has some work to do with respect to getting the API/SDK ready for a more general development community.”

    It’s just bizarre to me that this didn’t occupy the company starting on Day 1 after the Premiere shipped.

    Like I say, it seems kinda important…

  9. Don’t expect much uptake other than from a few dedicated hackers. Not sure if TiVo will be acting as a gate keeper though (say requiring apps to be signed and only allowing those on board that are), and if so most of those could be dissuaded (or just hack their way through anyway).

    One FTE isn’t going to get them very far. Evangelists, marketers, multiple FTE software developers etc to maintain and document. That would be evidence of commitment. And even then the limited number of deployed boxes would keep a lot/most developers away…

  10. “Don’t expect much uptake other than from a few dedicated hackers … And even then the limited number of deployed boxes would keep a lot/most developers away…”

    Meh. Both Amazon Prime and HBO Go both have (different) strategic reasons for wanting to be on TiVo, just as Netflix had strategic reasons. Walmart probably would like to be there as well, for yet different strategic reasons.

    All depends on how easy it TiVo makes it for them to get there, of course.

  11. “Looks like TiVo had Trevor take down his blog posting.”

    I’m worried. Is the binary code logo ill? Has the binary code logo become embroiled in some kind of sex scandal?

  12. “TiVo just updated the developer page to include more specifics. The Client SDK for Actionscript 3 is available now…”

    Good to know. However, the binary code logo is still missing in action. I’m thinking we should alert the police in case he’s lost somewhere. Send out an Amber Alert.

    On a less logo-obsessed basis, this ought to tell us if the decision to use Flash was a mistake or genius. Is there a robust Actionscript dev community out there among media companies?

    “…with the other APIs available soon.”

    The page makes no mention of this. Error on your part, other info on your part, or A Topic Not To Be Discussed?

    Gotta make it easy to write clients for the whole thing to work. Gotta make it easy for Amazon and HBO to toss something off by leveraging other code they’ve written…

  13. “…for Actionscript 3…”

    This all makes me wonder.

    I’ll assume that the S4 HDUI is all written in Actionscript. I’ll also assume the sluggishness of the S4 HDUI (compared to the S3) is due to a combination of using a scripting language and caching all those images.

    I’ll further assume that both the OS and the image caches reside on the TiVo’s platter drive. And I’ll go the further step and assume that an SSD would greatly improve ‘teh snappy’ on both executing the scripting language and grabbing cached images. Which leads me to:

    Given that they could probably acquire 16GB SSD’s for $30 or less, isn’t that the answer to a better running UI? I’d been guessing that they needed a better chipset to better run the UI. But maybe a cheap SSD is their answer…

  14. One of the reasons the new Netflix UI is so sluggish to launch is because it sounds as if it’s loaded across the net each time you access it…

  15. “One of the reasons the new Netflix UI is so sluggish to launch is because it sounds as if it’s loaded across the net each time you access it…”

    Yeah. I’ve already heard that one. Which is crazy if true, and should obviously have a better architectural solution.

    But I was wondering about speeding up the ‘native’ UI here. A mass desirable retail TiVo box really should run the ‘native’ UI with a bit more pleasantness in the snappy department.

    (Part of the reason I’m always finding excuses to not pull the trigger on upgrading to the S4 is the hope that the theoretical S5 would upgrade something to run the HDUI to my personal specs of acceptable snappy. I’d been thinking it was something in the chipset, but given how cheap small SSD’s are getting, and given the elimination of perceptual lagginess on a PC that an SSD gives, I started speculating in that direction.)

  16. The reason TiVo lacks “the snappy” is strictly due to its continued reliance on Broadcom MIPS Based System on Chip Designs “SoC”. Had they moved to ARM SoC with the Series 4, this problem may have been rendered moot. Everyone sees MIPS is dead end but TiVo.

    TiVo is an IP and patent company at this point. They haven’t provided any paradigm shifting innovation in a decade. Once their patents gracefully expire, what does TiVo offer that can’t be duplicated? Heck, it’s already bested by DirecTV and Dish Network’s in-house offerings and Windows Media Center. I’ll keep my Series 3 as long as I can. Its replacement in all likelihood won’t bare a TiVo logo.

  17. the problem TiVo will really have is the mistrust of indie developers since TiVo just flat out abondoned the first go around of an open SDK.

    Also what will be open in the SDK? Access to scheduling and season passes and disk space? ability to delete shows and so forth? As always this can become truly useful or just some more tricks while we wait for a real 3rd party like Netflix to make an app that runs well and has needed features.

    Hopefully TiVo gets this altogether and delivers a living SDK that keeps opening up features

  18. They should have adopted HTML5 and ECMAScript. It would make a lot of apps far easier to implement.

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