While TiVo had hitched its streaming wagon to Google, Xperi is somewhat course correcting as they evolve their cord cutting experience. You see, the TiVo Stream 4k is essentially an Android TV streaming dongle… enhanced with TiVo’s special sauce of content discovery (and augmented by free programming). Which was all well and good. Until Google decided to similarly place content recommendations front and center, which is both redundant on TiVo and a potential threat.
As CEO Jon Kirchner explains from their quarterly call:
[…] moving into an embedded application, where we’ll be let’s say the preferred user interface choice on a broader platform but originally around the notion that it would live on top of Android TV. […] What has changed is last fall, Google came out and said that they intend to go beyond their core OS level offering and really get into the UX business, and in so doing it eclipses one’s ability to I think reasonably be an alternative […]
While the revised plan may be specific to TiVo-powered television set ambitions, it seems reasonable to assume there could be a next generation TiVo Stream dongle in the works, but something akin to Fire TV — with Amazon exerting more visual and behavioral control atop a rudimentary Android build. Or, perhaps this is the end of the streaming stick line… as TiVo doesn’t have the luxury of time or the footprint and leverage required to court independent app development like Roku.
Updated 5/10 8:45PM EST
Xperi’s PR firm has reached out to clarify:
We are continuing our development of the TiVo Stream 4K Device, which is a pillar in our multi-part and phased strategy to expand into SmartTV OS. The TiVo Stream 4K allows us to introduce new features and functionality with maximum control, speed, and flexibility. Jon’s comments were meant to give our investor community insight into this multi-part and phased strategy, including an accelerated development of our TiVo Stream OS Platform in lieu of developing TiVo Stream Apps on other SmartTV OS platforms.
The statement makes no mention of a future stick, Android TV or otherwise, nor do I see changes to the timeline, beyond dropping a dedicated smart TV app from the roadmap. And, as I surmise in the comments below, launching a smart television OS two years from now is probably four years late (irrespective of platform). Since the communication channels have been opened, I did inquire with PR about reports of TiVo layoffs and staff realignment, how that might factor into these matters.
UPDATE 5/13 11:30AM EST