Saving Tivo


Staff member carries an article about how Tivo might not be 'dead' yet. It looks like they aquired a company named Strangeberry, but with the company came one of the most brilliant programmers in the world: Arthur Van Hoff. One of his 'pet' projects was the Sun JAVA language, and he thinks he has come up with a way to make Tivo thrive again.

A number of analysts and other third-party observers who've seen the fruits of van Hoff's labors believe that his team may well have succeeded. Strangeberry software gives users the power to do things that no other set-top box or PC has been able to do. You can stream any content from the Net, watch it on your TV, or route it wirelessly to any other device -- MP3 player, PDA, laptop. It can all be done with the ease that TiVo's 1.6 million subscribers already have come to relish: You'll never need to click more than a button or two on a single remote to pull entertainment into any room in your house. "Nobody else has technology that comes close," says Daniel Ernst, managing director of New York investment bank Rodman & Renshaw.

And perhaps most significant, TiVo has a fortress of intellectual property protecting the new technology, meaning that rivals will find it more difficult to quickly ape TiVo this time. That could give it enough breathing room to execute a dramatic and difficult shift in its business model.

Read the entire article
I read the article and, to be honest, my first impression is "big deal." I don't think that there is anything there that many of us aren't doing already. All they are doing is talking about putting a cleaner wrapper on it.

I can stream content, play it on my tv (any tv in the apartment, for that matter), etc. My mp3s can play on several devices, all tied to one server with the files. My PDA is wireless and I can watch recorded programs (I haven't bothered streaming live to it) or listen to mp3s if I want. If I open up my apartment to the outside world, I can access all of this stuff from wherever I am.

Right now, my stuff is distributed over several machines/devices, but the end user doesn't necessarily know that. My interfaces aren't clean and consistent - but they could be if it had value for me (which it doesn't).

So, I think the article is talking to people that aren't aware of all the media server development that's been going on. None of this is new - it's just a new interface. With the TiVo name behind it, though, it may have a better chance of succeeding.

What scares me about this is the menion of "intellectual property." Obviously, they may be keeping things secret, but there is nothing in the article that sounds particularly new or innovative. Are we going to see all sorts of legal battles over who owns the rights to concepts like sharing mp3s on a network? This looks like TiVo playing catch up and claiming that they've invented the whole idea.

Are companies that make things like the Hauppauge MediaMVP and GoVideo networkd DVD player going to have to fight TiVo to keep their products on the market?

What about software for PCs that does this stuff: Meedio, MS MCE, cinemar, SageTV, BeyondTV, gotTVPVR, etc.?