TiVo’s erstwhile competitor Moxi has had a long and troubled history. You can peruse my old Moxi-tagged posts for a brief history. They started off independent, working to bring their DVR to the retail market. Then they were bought out by Digeo who dropped plans for retail and decided to pursue the cable MSO market, with very little success. Then Digeo had a bewildering series of on-again, off-again plans for retail with product plans that often didn’t seem to make any sense, and never launched anyway.
Then they eventually did launch a retail DVR at the end of 2008 pretty much by surprise, with no fanfare. But it had major limitations – no OTA support & digital cable only, no analog cable. While the TiVo Premiere Elite has the same limitations, three years is a long time – three years ago most cable systems were not yet fully digital. You could get an external analog cable dongle to enable a single tuner. It was also expensive and lacked OTT services. So, unsurprisingly, it never sold well. Then in September, 2009 cable technology company Arris acquired struggling Digeo for a song ($20 million) as a way into the STB market.
Arris has continued to sell the retail Moxi unit, but it doesn’t seem to have evolved much since it launched in 2008. And what advantages it had, such as having three tuners and whole-home support with the MoxiMate, are eroding with the four tuner Elite and improved provider DVR offerings. And if TiVo launches the Preview at retail it would provide more functionality that the MoxiMate as well.
Arris has continued to struggle in the cable MSO market. They’ve retained small Oregon MSO BendBroadband as a Moxi customer. They’ve been using it since the Moxi Cable HD DVR 3012 in 2008. Charter, formerly Moxi’s biggest customer even with their limited deployment, continues to provide support for units in the field but no longer installs new units. And, of course, they’re moving to TiVo for the future. They’re biggest success with the new solutions is probably Shaw Cable in Canada, which is deploying their whole home system. Arris has been more successful in placing the newer units with cable MSOs (see the lower right corner of that page), but so far it is mainly very small providers or limited deployments with larger MSOs. And some in that list, like Charter, are legacy customers.
I think this is a good move. Moxi is a good brand name and they can build on it. It automatically lends itself to “You’ve got Moxi!” style marketing campaigns. It is simple and memorable, like TiVo, and is light years better than generic names like “Media Gateway” and “Media Player”. Branding matters.
The current Arris hardware does have some advantages over the TiVo Premiere Q:
The ARRIS Moxi Gateway, Player, User Interface and Services Portal platform provide a six-tuner HD DVR with 500 Gigabytes of storage. It also includes DOCSIS 3.0 high speed data and voice, a four-port Ethernet home networking router, plus support for Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) 1.1+ home networking technology and an option for 802.11n Wi-Fi. It can connect with subscriber-owned DLNA-enabled devices across a home network, has CableCARD conditional access and DTCP-IP encryption between the in-home devices.
The Moxi Gateway has six tuners to the Q’s four, it includes a DOCSIS modem for data and an Ethernet router, so it can act as your home broadband gateway, and it supports DLNA which is notably lacking on TiVo. One thing to note though is that this Moxi whole home solution requires at least two boxes. The Moxi Gateway is just a gateway box. It doesn’t have A/V connections. You need the Moxi Player to access the content stored on the Gateway. Even if you just have one TV and one room, you’d have two boxes.
Of course, conversely, TiVo has arguably better DVR functionality, and it supports a slew of OTT services, has a related iOS app (with Android coming), and more. And TiVo has the brand clout with consumers that Moxi can’t hope to match. Still, competition is a good thing, and it sounds like TiVo may be working on a next generation unit with some of these features.
Arris really has their work cut out for them in the cable MSO market. One of the benefits for smaller MSOs in going with TiVo is the boost from the TiVo brand recognition and the OTT services, apps, etc, that TiVo brings to the table. And, to a lesser extent, the same holds true for larger MSOs like Charter. TiVo’s momentum on the back of successful deals like RCN, Suddenlink, and, especially, Virgin Media, is also powerful. We’ll see how Arris’s new branding efforts work out for them in time.