There has certainly been a lot of coverage today for TiVo and Amazon’s new Product Purchase partnership. Here’s some of the highlights – Shelly Palmer covered it in today’s MediaBytes (also available via TiVoCast).
Dave Zatz over at Zatz Not Funny posted a few screen shots of the interface, which confirm what I suspected – there is a PIN to control access to purchase power. It uses the same PIN required for Amazon Unbox purchases, which certainly makes sense. The product screen looks much like a program description screen, and there is Swivel Search-like functionality with ‘View related products’. Shipping and taxes are calculated (I’m presuming it takes into account things like Amazon Prime) and you have the ability to confirm the order with the total to be charged. Or you can change your shipping options, or even save the item to your Amazon web-based shopping cart.
EDIT: I’d requested images of the interface as well, and TiVo got back to me with them today:
Wired’s Epicenter blog’s coverage helps clarify a few things about the implementation. The current implementation will display the product purchase option on the delete screen at the end of a program, similar to the ads that can display there today. While programs can be flagged for specific products, TiVo can also use a Suggestions-style system where it presents products it feels are related, based on the program’s guide data. So the name of a talk show guest may cause books by that person to be offered, etc.
Product Purchase will also be available through Universal Swivel Search, where products related to the search results may be presented for purchase. So if you’re searching for David Hasselhoff you may be offered DVDs of Knight Rider, for example. And there’s more:
It’s not an exclusive arrangement, though, and it’s fair to expect both Amazon.com and TiVo will hop in bed with other players. “We’re always looking at ways to expand shopping options for customers,” says Heather Huntoon, a spokeswoman from Amazon.com.
TiVo’s [Evan Young, Director of Broadband Services] says the company may introduce other commerce partners, but at the moment the focus is on Amazon. “We’re looking to create some initial success with Amazon. They’re already a partner of ours, and they have excellent customer service.”
And although TiVo hasn’t tested the shopping service yet, Young is already hopeful that the initiative can be expanded to include in-program product placements and other ad arrangements.
“We’re interested in talking to programmers as well as advertisers to enable more impulse buys when it make sense,” says Young.
So TiVo could partner with QVC to offer remote-based ordering without the need to call in. Or perhaps partner with a national pizza chain to allow ordering from the TiVo, with prompts to do so in their ads. (Actually, thinking about it, there are websites out there that offer menus for local delivery joints, and sometimes online ordering. TiVo should link up with one (or more) of them and get an HME based ordering system up. It would make compiling an order for all your friends so much easier.) Channels that sell DVDs of their own programs, like Discovery and History, could sell them right at the end of the program, direct to viewers via TiVo. MTV could offer CD sales, or perhaps downloads, linked from videos (Well, whenever they deign to show videos these says.) I can think of many possible uses for this feature.
The hard part would be that, with the current system, you need to have a relationship with the vendor so that they have your payment information on file. If TiVo were to act as a payment broker, or partner with the likes of PayPal to be a broker, they could sign up just about any merchant without the user having to establish those payment relationships. That would really reduce the friction in the system.
TiVo’s Stephen Mack also posted some details on the new feature over at TiVoCommunity:
With that out of the way, here’s what you’ll see with the new feature launching today.
* For Burn Notice, Oprah’s Book Club, and a few other shows, at the conclusion of the show you’ll see a message in the delete dialog box allowing you to purchase related products. (These are similar to existing messages in the delete dialog box.) More shows will come in the future.
* In the future, we’ll create a showcase for upcoming talk shows allowing you to purchase related products.
* In the future, we’ll create a showcase about newly released books, DVDs and CDs.
The second and third items you’ll see next week, and if they’re well received we’ll evaluating continuing with them.
I’m very excited about this new feature — it’s long been high on my wishlist of things that I want when I watch TV, and I’m glad we’ve released this new feature for our customers.
Furthermore, he added:
One other point: Think of this an add-on to the existing advertising delivery methods that we’ve had for a while. Product purchase further enhances things like Showcases, program placement (that’s what we call the related menu items in the delete dialog box), and the Thumbs Up tags on advertisements.
This will be no more invasive than the existing advertising products that you’ve seen already. We don’t intend to put this new feature in any new locations.
In case it isn’t clear, that mean no ‘Buy Now’ pop-ups during actual program content. But they may appear over ads, just as the ‘Press Thumbs Up For More Information’ prompts can do so today. So those who have been worried about big pop-ups in the middle of their favorite show needed be concerned. (Though, personally, as I said in my early post, I think some kind of small, unobtrusive indicator to be able to order in-content items would be cool. But I know some would dislike that, so it should probably be something the user can disable.)
And, finally, TiVo did issue an official press release today announcing the feature.