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FWIW....


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From Technolawyer.com



Why TiVo Is in Trouble; Six Quick Legal Technology Predictions

By Neil J. Squillante


As many of you know, I had hoped for (but did not really expect) a new TiVo model at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Although TiVo did announce a forthcoming HDTV box for DirecTV customers, it's time to acknowledge that TiVo has become a software company. There's no shame in that, except that TiVo is not having much success persuading cable companies to use its technology.


TiVo is in trouble. How do I know? Because I wanted a TiVo, but instead I ended up ordering a generic Scientific Atlanta DVR from Time Warner, my cable provider.


Unlike TiVo, my DVR was free (Time Warner charges about $9/month for the service). And much to my surprise, it works well. In particular, it features excellent picture quality, an elegant fast forward mechanism (it has three speeds and starts playing a few seconds prior to where you stop so that you don't have to backtrack after zooming through a commercial break), picture-in-picture, pausing of live TV, instant replay, a very good remote, the ability to record two channels simultaneously while you watch a third, and various other goodies.


Still, it's not a TiVo. The season pass feature has a few bugs or at least quirks (but I have been able to figure out workarounds for everything I want to do), you can't search for shows by name, the schedule only shows one week in advance, you don't receive any recommendations based on the shows you record, you can't program the box remotely from the Web, etc.


But it was free so I got my money's worth. And like TiVo, it dramatically changes how you watch TV -- especially if you're a news junkie. News shows don't have a linear narrative, but instead consist of self-contained segments. For example, in a typical episode of "Hardball," I usually have an interest in just one or two segments so it takes me just 10-15 minutes to watch the show (sorry Chris Matthews).


So while I'd prefer a TiVo, I'm pretty happy with what I have (for now). This complacency underscores why TiVo is in trouble.


Last fall, during an analyst call with Apple's senior executives, someone asked why Apple didn't develop a mobile phone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed to the power wielded by the six wireless telcos. If they choose not to carry your phone, you're screwed. And even if they do, they have significantly more leverage in negotiations.


The same is true of the TV business -- it's controlled by a handful of cable and satellite providers. TiVo is now learning this lesson the hard way.
 

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Boy, if Tivo's in trouble ... Keep in mind that while the article's title is "Tivo In Trouble," they're using "Tivo" in the generic, kleenex sense -- everything mentioned here applies to RTV also (except for the part where there's no name recognition for RTV).


-roy
 

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While I agree there may not be a mass market for standalone PVRs I do believe there will be a market for standalone PVRs for more sophisticated users for a long time to come. One analogy is the market for higher-end audio/video amplifiers/receivers. Most users don't *need* these, but there is still a market out there because they serve a purpose their lower-end integrated counterparts cannot provide.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by moyekj
While I agree there may not be a mass market for standalone PVRs I do believe there will be a market for standalone PVRs for more sophisticated users for a long time to come. One analogy is the market for higher-end audio/video amplifiers/receivers. Most users don't *need* these, but there is still a market out there because they serve a purpose their lower-end integrated counterparts cannot provide.
You're assuming two things though:


1) That you can actually get at the original digital content, and not the component o/p of your HD receiver, and then have to re-compress it with the MPEG encoder on the standalone DVR.


2) That you can actually get to the content once you have it, and do something with it. Now that I have RTV and DVArchive, there's no going back.


With my wireless laptop and DVArchive, I can watch my recorded shows anywhere in the house. I can't do that with the cable DVR system, at this time. I might be able to some day in the future, as long as I install the cable co's proprietary content locking software. No thanks.


As soon as the RTV is no longer feasible, I will figure out some other way to do the exact same thing. Granted, the RTV is an excellent user interface to the TV, but if I have to have a Linux box in the basement record my shows on an open platform, then download them later to my laptop, or use something like a MediaMVP thin client connected to the TV, so be it.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by back40
You're assuming two things though:


1) That you can actually get at the original digital content, and not the component o/p of your HD receiver, and then have to re-compress it with the MPEG encoder on the standalone DVR.


2) That you can actually get to the content once you have it, and do something with it. Now that I have RTV and DVArchive, there's no going back.


With my wireless laptop and DVArchive, I can watch my recorded shows anywhere in the house. I can't do that with the cable DVR system, at this time. I might be able to some day in the future, as long as I install the cable co's proprietary content locking software. No thanks.


As soon as the RTV is no longer feasible, I will figure out some other way to do the exact same thing. Granted, the RTV is an excellent user interface to the TV, but if I have to have a Linux box in the basement record my shows on an open platform, then download them later to my laptop, or use something like a MediaMVP thin client connected to the TV, so be it.
I think you misunderstood my post... I was actually trying to make a case that for certain users (like me) I see a lot of value in standalone PVRs (like RTV) that I can't get in PVRs supplied by Cable/Satellite TV companies, and I'm willing to pay a premium for that extra capability.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by moyekj
I think you misunderstood my post... I was actually trying to make a case that for certain users (like me) I see a lot of value in standalone PVRs (like RTV) that I can't get in PVRs supplied by Cable/Satellite TV companies, and I'm willing to pay a premium for that extra capability.
I guess I didn't make myself too clear :) The point I was trying to get across, is that those high-end premium devices must be able to do the kinds of things I mentioned, or there won't be much---if any value-add over the provider's offering....And somehow I doubt the provider will ever let you get directly at their original digital source.
 

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If the OpenCable standard is ever approved/implemented, any company will be able to manufacture a digital cable box. This means that users will have the option of renting a cable box from their provider or buying one at a store. Will these boxes ever compete w/ $10/month cable co provided boxes? Possibly.
 

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And the open cable standard would allow more competitive pricing for DVR's with high-end features. Isn't it ironic that Directv annouced they will now control the supply of their receivers like DishNetwok has been doing.....:rolleyes:
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by back40
I guess I didn't make myself too clear :) The point I was trying to get across, is that those high-end premium devices must be able to do the kinds of things I mentioned, or there won't be much---if any value-add over the provider's offering....And somehow I doubt the provider will ever let you get directly at their original digital source.
But on the other hand, every current ReplayTV owner has already demonstrated that they are willing to live with the image degradation resulting from an extra MPEG encode/decode step, so I don't think getting access to the original digital source is such a sine qua non. I'll definitely live with some decreased quality in exchange for superior functionality.


On a related note, it's fascinating to me what a brain can adjust to. I always fancied myself a bit of an audio/video-phile. Then along came MP3 and I found that for casual listening my ear adjusts quite well to the "inferior quality". Ditto for casual TV watching. I don't even notice compression artifacts anymore. Then a few months ago I got a plasma TV that doesn't "smart scale" (i.e. stretch a 4:3 source more at the sides and less at the middle) properly on the component inputs and instead stretches the 4:3 source to fit the 16:9 screen, making everyone on-screen look like they've gained 25 pounds. Now I don't even notice it anymore. I can only imagine what a guest to my house would think after seeing/hearing my "high-end" system :D
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by BeefStu
Then a few months ago I got a plasma TV that doesn't "smart scale" (i.e. stretch a 4:3 source more at the sides and less at the middle) properly on the component inputs and instead stretches the 4:3 source to fit the 16:9 screen, making everyone on-screen look like they've gained 25 pounds. Now I don't even notice it anymore. I can only imagine what a guest to my house would think after seeing/hearing my "high-end" system :D
Oooh. That's a big no-no in my book.


Actually, the compression artifacts still bother me, but I just tell myself to work around it. Replays features are worth the loss in picture quality. (And at HQ there really isn't that much of a loss.)
 
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