Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tivo ... A 'Walled Garden' that is dying on the vine, maybe..

Tivo has become one of those words like Xerox... It is representative of digital video recording.  Since 1999 we have been indulgent in what is called "time-shifted" viewing of content.  I can record shows that occur at set times during the day and then watch them when I get ready to and even skip through commercials.  The setup requires a box and a monthly subscription (usually $10 - $12) per month.  This box is in addition to any cable or satellite boxes you may already have.  Tivo has options for using Cable Cards as well.

Over the years Tivo has attempted to pull more folks into it's services (games, weather, etc).  Recently it has added the option of including Netflix and  What Tivo has failed to do is engage in the "place-shifting" evolution of content consumption that is occurring.  I don't always want to sit in front of my television to watch video (that I've recorded).  I may be in front of a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone and want to catch up on the last two episodes of Family Guy.  You could go and purchase another box (SlingBox) to add to your collection and power consumption, but why hasn't Tivo stepped into the second decade of the 21st century by offering apps across several platforms for viewing or at least open up their software for others to develop good solutions.

Tivo does have API's available for accessing their DVR, but at best, people have made remote control apps for their boxes.  There is no good solution for pulling content and re-encoding for the other platforms.   There is desktop software (Roxio, Tivo Desktop) that will allow you to manually do some work, but that is additional $$ and it's a very manual process.

Tivo = Television As A Service  (TaaS) ??  Yes, that's where Tivo should head.  Hulu doesn't cut it because available content is controlled by the networks and is delayed.  Tivo should be a good layer on top of existing television by including "place-shifting" and "social capabilities".  Liking a show in Tivo should integrate into Facebook and Twitter.  I should be able to take up to 10 seconds of a show and post with comments or send to my friends saying "OMG ... so funny, take a look".

Tivo won't last munch longer if the only thing you can do is sit on the couch to use it...