PC Magazine’s Dan Costa’s Advice To TiVo

PC Magazine’s Dan Costa has written an article entitled ‘TiVo Is Not Dead Yet’, in which he expresses his opinion that despite ‘conventional wisdom’ that has seem a lot of people chime in with doom and gloom predictions for TiVo’s future, TiVo actually has a solid chance to succeed. Of course, he says that this is if they were to take his advice, and he lays out four major rules for TiVo.

The first is “Play nice with cable providers“, and he mentions the work with Comcast and Cox, and that TiVo shouldn’t compete with cable companies. But he doesn’t mention the development of the Tru2Way-enabled TiVo which could be offered to both consumers and cable MSOs and support all of the advanced services. So I think TiVo is already doing this quite nicely.

Next is “Be a software vendor” where he tells TiVo to focus on software and forget the hardware. This has come up repeatedly, and TiVo has repeatedly explained why they need the hardware. Controlling the hardware allows them to innovate and offer new features. Note that neither the DirecTiVo nor the Comcast OCAP software support most of the features available on the standalone boxes. TiVo would be a much, much more limited product if they only produced software for other vendors’ hardware. Having the standalone hardware allows TiVo to innovate and to drag the competition, kicking and screaming, forward. It provides competitive pressure.

Third is “Don’t just watch TV“, in which he extols TiVo to go beyond TV with more deals like Rhapsody and YouTube. I don’t think that’s a problem, since he’s basically telling TiVo to do something they’ve repeatedly stated will be a cornerstone of their plans.

And last is “Be social“. This one I think is worth partially quoting, because I have said TiVo should do the same things:

Be social. With nearly four million very engaged subscribers, TiVo has one of the most active social networks around. The company already lets users make recommendations and share videos. TiVo should evolve as a platform for members to talk about programs, create their own content, and share media.

Yes, please! I started suggesting similar things a few years ago. Let friends setup TiVo-based social networks to share recordings. And if that’s too daring to start, how about letting us share Suggestions – let me Suggest that my friend’s TiVo record a specific show. “Hey, check this out.” Setup discussion boards where users can share ratings and discuss shows. Let us upload the Thumb Ratings from our TiVos and match us with others who have similar tastes. There is really so much TiVo could do to foster community involvement that it is overwhelming – but right now they aren’t really doing anything. And that’s really frustrating.

Oh, and in case Dan reads this:

I do have an ulterior motive for writing this column. Right now, using a TiVo box—assuming I can get CableCard to work—means losing about half of my high-definition channels. That isn’t a trade-off I am willing to make. If TiVo could make nice with Cablevision, I could have my high-definition Dwell and watch it, too.

I presume that’s due to Switched Digital Video (SDV). Two words: Tuning Resolver. The solution is already in the works.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Glenn

    Is that the real list? Not impressed really.

    How about:

    1. Go direct

    You should be able to do everything you want directly from the Tivo. I really don’t want to go to my PC and install some software and have it tied up transcoding things for my Tivo, or have to enter requests on my PC. I want to do everything direct from my Tivo.

    2. Embrace the web

    They’re already doing this to some degree of course, but not quite the way they should. As you suggest, the whole thing needs to be more social. See those recommendations and popularity ratings of podcasts in iTunes? Where is that in the Tivo interface? Why only podcasts, why not any web video, whether on youtube or hulu or wherever? Forget the SlingCatcher, why can’t I do basic web browsing on the Tivo itself, and then watch video streaming from hulu or abc.com or whatever?

    3. Polish up your UI

    Its time Tivo. Seriously. I mean the interface is perfectly okay for most things, and I love the remote. But why aren’t there ANY graphics in the Unbox ordering? Why are the TV show episodes out of order? Why is there so little information? Why isn’t there a “order next episode” button? Why can’t I browse through my music by album art? Where’s the slideshow with music and so forth. Look at the Apple TV. Copy the nice stuff. How about an easy way to pull up a Wikipedia article?

    4. Stop with the walled garden

    Sure, Rhapsody is nice, but hey personally I hate Real and hope they burn in hell. So I won’t be subscribing to that anytime soon. But I love Pandora, and would pay money to subscribe to it if I could get it through my Tivo since I’m not going to install a Squeezebox just for that purpose. Others like last.fm. Don’t stop after Rhapsody. Don’t stop after flickr. Do all of the top services. Embrace podcasts, web video sharing sites, etc. If your current hardware can’t handle this because of codec issues or whatever, build something that can.

    5. Remove the FUD

    HD? No problem. SDV? No problem. Cable or Satellite or antenna or IPTV or … No problem. Cablecards aren’t the only way of hooking things up. Work something out with DirectTV and Dish. Build a box with that new component HD encoder chip if that’s what is needed. Get the damn SDV dongle done already.