I just mentioned this in my post on their financial results, but I feel this is big enough news to call out in its own post. TiVo is developing a new standalone box that will natively support Tru2Way, formerly known as OCAP, for advanced cable features. That means a TiVo with built-in support for SDV, VOD, PPV, and pretty much any advanced cable feature offered via Tru2Way. As Tom Rogers was quoted in TiVo’s financial statement:
In this regard, we are working in conjunction with CableLabs toward creating a standalone box that would be capable of providing the two way services provided by cable operators.
During the conference call Q&A he further elaborated that the Tru2Way-enabled TiVo standalone is seen as something TiVo can market to both consumers and cable MSOs. For consumers it would be marketed just like the TiVo HD, while for cable MSOs it would be offered as a STB for them to offer to their customers, just as they do today with Motorola or Scientific Atlanta boxes. This is similar to Digeo’s plans for the Moxi hardware, and it would offer a compliment and alternative to TiVo’s OCAP software for other hardware platforms.
The possibility of TiVo developing such a unit was first broached last November in an FCC filing relating to the Tuning Resolver:
In this proceeding, TiVo had expressed concerns about the cable industryâ€™s OpenCable Application Platform (â€œOCAPâ€) specifications and license terms. In response to TiVoâ€™s concerns, the cable industry has agreed to work with TiVo to make clarifications or adjustments to OCAP that may be necessary to enable TiVo to build what TiVo believes can be a viable retail DVR with OCAP. We explained that a TiVo DVR with OCAP would have a â€œTiVo modeâ€ displaying all linear channels (including switched digital video enabled by OCAP) with the TiVo user interface and full DVR functionality as well as a â€œcable modeâ€ running OCAP and displaying all cable programming services with the cable user interface without DVR functionality.
That was a strong indication that TiVo would be heading in this direction, but I believe today’s statements are the first to confirm that TiVo is indeed pursuing development of such a box. My bet would be on an evolution of the TiVo HD platform. This would most likely be mainly a software change, to provide the OCAP virtual machine platform, as well as the hand-off process for swapping between the TiVo platform and the OCAP platform. TiVo may be able to work off of their existing HME system, as they already have the ability to jump between ‘native’ and HME menus, etc. The major hardware change would be the addition of transceiver hardware to handle the bidirectional communication.
I do wonder if there is any possibility of these capabilities being introduced in the current Series3 and TiVo HD units. A Tuning Resolver could provide the bidirectional communication capability. If the existing hardware has the power to run the OCAP code, and I think it does, it could be a software update. But I’m not willing to bet on it, at least not until we have more details on the development effort.