Having announced consumer products last fall and shown mock-ups at CES in January with plans to ship them in the second half of 2007, and restating the intent to ship this year as recently as September, it looks like Digeo failed to meet their goals. Dave Zatz reports that the consumer Moxi boxes are still planned, but are now on hold until early 2008. Digeo had this to say:
While we are certainly disappointed about this, we want to make sure our first entry into the retail space is one that delivers the best consumer high-definition entertainment experience possible. We are really excited about the new developments we are building into the Moxi Menu and the advanced (dare I say bleeding edge?) hardware platforms we have chosen for both the Moxi Multi-Room and Moxi Home Cinema HD DMRs, but as you know, while using the latest and greatest technology means the consumer gets a more future-proofed product, it also requires a little more work.
I’m not surprised by this, it was becoming apparent that Digeo wasn’t going to ship in time for the holidays. Since CES in January there have only been a handful of updates, and overall the information released has been very light. Even at recent trade shows Digeo was still using the hollow mock-up units in their displays, and not real prototypes, let alone final products. (By contrast TiVo had a working prototype Series3 at CES 2005, and a fairly production representative unit at CES 2006, and the box shipped in late 2006.)
The ‘high end’ Moxi Home Cinema HD DMR, which is really a fancy name for a PC based on the AMD Live! reference platform running Linux-based Moxi software, never made sense to me – from the first time I saw it. As I said then:
Conversely, the AMD-based design will not support CableCARD. It will support antenna, analog cable, and probably clear QAM for unencrypted digital cable. (I had 2 reps tell me yes and one said no on clear QAM.) Youâ€™ll need an external cable box for anything else. I think not supporting CableCARD on what theyâ€™re positioning as the premium product of the two is just dumb. But it may be too much – it will be Linux based, and not Windows Vista, so maybe they just canâ€™t work it out for CableLabs. But if youâ€™re looking for a premium, PC-based product in that range, there will be a lot of Vista-based PCs with CableCARD to select from. I donâ€™t think the Moxi features are really enough to sway a lot of people to give up native digital cable capabilities.
There are an increasing number of Vista-based Media Center PCs with CableCARD support, and, of course, the TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD now have TiVoToGo, and then you have the cable DVRs. Unless Digeo has changed their plans to incorporate CableCARD, I just don’t see this product selling. There just isn’t demand for an expensive media center PC with limited source options.
The more conventional ‘set top box’ style Moxi DMRs make more sense. Their Multi-Room support will be an interesting feature. But details on the actual hardware is still lacking – such as the size of the hard drive. Back in January rumors put the pricing as high as $1,000, but with no monthly fee (basically a bundled lifetime subscription). But that was when the TiVo Series3 was still selling for close to it’s MSRP of $800. Now the S3 is selling for ~$350 and the TiVo HD is out and selling for ~$250. While bundling the lifetime subscription is appealing, it will still result in higher pricing and potential sticker shock on the shelf. ReplayTV learned that lesson the hardware – twice. RTV launched with bundled lifetime and no monthly option, and got whipped by TiVo which sold their boxes for a lower price, and then sold lifetime or monthly subs (and yearly subs, back then) separately. So RTV revised their pricing to match TiVo. Then, a few years later, for reasons that remain inexplicable, they tried switching back to a bundled lifetime plan. That didn’t last long as it killed sales, and they reverted to the unbundled pricing. I don’t know why Digeo would do any better at retail with the Moxi boxes with bundled lifetime and a higher fee. Even if the overall cost is lower, the average consumer seems to balk at the higher upfront cost.
Based on what I saw at CES, and the little information that has appeared since, I think Digeo should forget the Moxi Home Cinema HD DMR (unless they can incorporate CableCARD support – even then it is iffy) and just focus on the Moxi Multi-Room DMR to get it out at a low price point. They should offer unbundled lifetime and monthly subscription options, and the box itself should be under $300. They plan to incorporate a DVD player in the box – at this point unless they have upscaling support and a solid DVD system, they should drop it. You can get great upscaling DVD players for ~$60, so a ‘premium’ product would be tarnished if it can’t provide the same capabilities.
Digeo could provide some competition for TiVo, but they need to bring a product to market first, and it needs to be priced competitively. And the longer they delay, the more time TiVo has to gain users and to lock in partnerships to give them an advantage – everything from Amazon Unbox to being able to schedule recordings from 3rd party sites like Zap2it.com. Digeo has a lot of work ahead of them if they’re going to compete, and they need to start soon.