Wow, big news out of Digeo today. It seems that I wasn’t the only with to have issues with their product plans – according to CNET both the Moxi Multi-Room HD DMR (and associated Moxi Mate) and Moxi Home Cinema HD DMR product lines have been canceled. This comes just a week after they were touting the products at CES. The CNET article doesn’t mention the Moxi TV for PC software, so it is unclear if that has been canceled as well or if it is still moving forward. The Home Cinema HD DMR and the Moxi TV for PC software are currently in beta and were expected to hit retail in a few months time. No hard dates had been given, but May had been an estimate. The Multi-Room DMRs were still in the prototype & development stage and had not yet entered beta testing.
In addition to the product testing, Digeo is laying off nearly half of its staff, and current CEO Mike Fidler will be replaced by COO Greg Gudorf. Fidler has stated that he chose to step down on his own, and is not being pushed out. He will stay on as long as is necessary to help Gudorf with the transition. Considering all the trouble Digeo has had in bringing Moxi products to market, the management shake-up is hardly surprising. After Digeo acquired Moxi in 2002, they pulled plans to release retail Moxi products and, instead, focused on licensing the software to cable MSOs. However, that tactic didn’t work out very well, with only roughly 400,000 homes using the Moxi software at this point. In late 2006 Digeo began talking about finally bringing Moxi into the retail market to compete with TiVo, and at CES 2007 they made a splash by showing off mock-ups of the Home Cinema DMR and the Multi-Room DMR, claiming they’d be on shelves by the fall of 2007. Clearly they failed to meet those goals, as the Home Cinema DMR had only recently gone into beta and the Multi-Room DMR still exists only in prototype and development models, and the display units at CES 2008 weren’t even running.
When Digeo first announced their plans the only viable 3rd party HD DVR was the TiVo Series3, which was still selling for nearly $800. However, in the meantime TiVo released the TiVo HD with a $300 MSRP while continuing to expand the feature set. Between sales, online discounts, and rebates the Series3 is regularly available for $350-$400 and the TiVo HD for ~$250. While the Moxi’s expected higher MSRP, expected to be around $1,000, would be partially offset by the lack of a subscription, it was still expected to be quite a bit more expensive while lacking some of the core features offered by TiVo. Based on my past comments it is probably no surprise that at this point I think canceling these units is the right thing to do. I just hope that they pay attention and take the best features of both units to produce one solid DVR with CableCARD and ATSC support. The Moxi software does have some very good things going for it, Digeo just needs to bring it together with a solid, affordable hardware platform, and fill in a few of the gaps in the software.
Also not mentioned in the article is the OCAP/Tru2Way port of the Moxi interface that Digeo claims to be working on currently. I would have to expect them to continue working on that, for the sake of the future of the company. The entire cable industry is moving to OCAP, aka Tru2Way, and a number of consumer electronics products supporting it were unveiled at CES. They really need to have a play in that area of the market going forward.
What is known is that Digeo will focus on another product, the Moxi HD DVR for Cable, which is due ‘sometime later this year’. Little is known about this product, but a tiny image of it does appear on this page of Digeo.com in the lower-right corner. It is hard to tell from such a small image, but it looks to be quite a bit smaller than the Multi-Room HD DMR, which is good (see my earlier opinion on the looks of the Multi-Room box). It is black, and seems to more closely resemble the Home Cinema box overall. I can’t tell from the image if it has a DVD drive, as the two canceled units did. I do note that it is called a ‘DVR’ rather than a ‘DMR’, which makes me wonder if it will have the media features supported by the now-canceled units. And the fact that CNET referred to it as the ‘Moxi HD DVR for Cable‘ makes me wonder if it has any support for ATSC, or if it suffers the same glaring flaw as the Multi-Room DMR in lacking it.
There is a press release from May 7, 2007 in which Digeo announced a ‘Moxi HD DVR’ and the Moxi for OCAP development efforts. However, that press released also claimed the HD DVR would be available in 4Q07 and the first version of the OCAP software would be available in 4Q07 with additional versions in early 2008. From the press release it also sounds as if the HD DVR is aimed for sale to cable MSOs, while the CNET article makes it sound like a retail box. So it isn’t clear if this is the same unit they’re working on now for later in 2008, or if it is a newer unit with the same name. It could be that they’ll produce one unit and seek to distribute it both via cable MSOs and retail.
When I heard the news I contacted Digeo and their public relations firm for a clarification on these issues. Understandably, given the chaos caused by layoffs (I’ve been through that myself), no one was available to speak with me today. However, I currently have a conversation scheduled for tomorrow and I’ll follow up once I get some clarification on their product plans going forward.
Thanks to Brad Linder of PVR Wire @ TV Squad for the tip-off.
EDIT 19:33: EngadgetHD got a hold of a Digeo press release which makes things a bit clearer than CNET’s article. There are two products Digeo will continue to work on – the Moxi HD DVR for Cable and a ‘next-generation consumer DMR’ which will be a retail product. That makes things a bit more clear.
The Moxi HD DVR for Cable is intended for cable MSOs and the press release states that it is in trial now and will be released as planned. (Of course, it was ‘planned’ for 4Q07.) The next-generation consumer DMR has apparently been in development along side the canceled products, and development will continue.
So one is a new STB for the cable industry, which will likely be cable-only, while the other will be a retail STB, which will hopefully support CableCARD and ATSC. I’ll see what I can find out tomorrow.
EDIT: I’ve posted more information from my conversation with COO Greg Gudorf.