After months of hard bargaining, TiVo reached an agreement last summer to offer its pioneering video recording system to customers of the Comcast cable system, according to several people involved in the discussions.
It was potentially a critical deal for TiVo, because Comcast is by far the biggest cable system and also because control of DirecTV, the satellite system that has been the biggest distributor of TiVo, had been bought by the News Corporation, which also owns a TiVo rival.
Yet, at the last minute, Michael Ramsay, TiVo’s chief executive, decided to pull out of the deal. Comcast was not going to pay TiVo enough money or give it enough control over its service, Mr. Ramsay told the company’s board, according to people involved in those discussions.
A mildly upsetting article if true. Once you walk away from an opportunity like that they generally are gone for good. Even if they would’ve gotten very little from the deal, it would’ve put ‘TiVo’ into many homes, and kept some *other* solution *out*. Which is perhaps more important.
TiVo has said they can survive without DirecTV because the overall financial benefit of the deal isn’t really that large a part of their income, but it is still income and my understanding is it is still a profitable business. So it is upside.
But, the possible missed opportunity aside, there are a few interesting nuggets in this article.
His plan – called Tahiti – involves several technological innovations intended to let TiVo thrive without the cooperation of cable companies. Devices will be able to send recorded programs to personal computers and to download programs from the Internet as well, taking advantage of a standard mandated by the government that, in theory, would allow TiVo to directly connect to cable systems. Also, he said TiVo would move beyond video recorders to a broader product line involved in the convergence between computers and television, including software that would allow a home computer to record television programs. This would put TiVo into direct competition with other companies, like Sony, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.
OK – TiVoToGo (and ‘TiVoToComeback’, as even TiVo employees have been calling it, such as at CES (moving content from a PC TO a TiVo – yes, it is coming)), CableCARD, broadband content, etc. But I think this is the first time I’ve heard any mention of TiVo releasing software for a PC. A lot of people have said they’d buy something for that, or asked questions like “Why doesn’t TiVo release their interface for the PC I own?”, etc. Interesting.
In the past I have said that I could see TiVo doing what Palm did – Palm split into PalmSource – which licenses the OS, and PalmOne – which builds Palm branded HW. I could see TiVo doing the same thing – divorcing the SW and HW businesses, and licensing their SW for other vendors and platforms more widely. I mean, they already do that now, but, like Palm, it is a mixed relationship – since they license the OS to vendors like Pioneer, Toshiba, and Humax, but also compete with them on store shelves with TiVo branded units.
(Article originally spotted via PVRBlog)