You have to give ReplayTV some credit, they keep trying even when it seems futile. ReplayTV launched almost simultaneously with TiVo back in 1999 and for a couple of years there was real competition. But ReplayTV never quite matched TiVo’s success, and as TiVo’s reputation took off, and their success built, ReplayTV faltered. TiVo’s deal with DirecTV gave them a major boost that ReplayTV could never match – ReplayTV’s licensing deals with Panasonic (the Panasonic ShowStopper was a ReplayTV re-badged) and the like just couldn’t match TiVo’s growth. Success breeds success, and, while ReplayTV had a larger retail presence early on, TiVo overtook them and eventually ReplayTV lost retail partners as TiVo continued to gain them.
ReplayTV went bankrupt, and SonicBlue bought them. Under SonicBlue they introduced SendShow, Internet show sharing. This brought lawsuits against SB, which greatly crippled ReplayTV’s growth by diverting funds to legal costs. This contributed to SonicBlue’s bankruptcy, and D&M Holdings, parent company of Denon and Marantz, acquired ReplayTV and Rio from the wreckage, making them part of DNNA (Digital Networks North America). However, DNNA wasn’t really interested in keeping ReplayTV running. Instead, they canceled all future hardware and software development, planning to use the ReplayTV features in higher end gear from Escient. A product was announced a few years ago – and never shipped. Meanwhile, DNNA just kept selling off the existing stocks of hardware and they eventually sold out in very early 2006. And ReplayTV was no more.
Except, later in 2006, DNNA announced that ReplayTV was returning as Windows-based DVR software. It was delayed, but finally shipped late in the year – for $100. Competing with established players such as Beyond TV, SageTV, and GB-PVR – all of which cost less and do more than ReplayTV’s PC software. (GB-PVR is free.) And there are others – including free Linux DVR software like MythTV and Freevo. Not to mention the 800-pound gorilla that is Windows XP Media Center Edition, and now Windows Vista which includes media center features. If someone is going to buy Windows DVR software, why would they buy more expensive software with more limitations? And the ReplayTV software costs $20/year after the first year, while the other software has no ongoing costs. I’ve said that they’d never be able to carve out a niche this way.
So, why did I just ramble through all that? Well, mainly because I felt like it, and to mention that apparently they feel the same way. ReplayTV just dropped the price to $50 and updated the software to address some of the issues.
I still predict it will bomb – it still has major limitations, it is a new player in a saturated market (and the other solutions have established developer communities with tons of add-ons, etc), and even though it is now one of the lower priced options up-front, the ongoing costs add up. If you’re looking for Windows-based DVR software, and want more than MCE/Vista, I’d really look at Beyond TV or SageTV.
I picked this up from PVR Wire @ TV Squad.