TiVo Home Media and beyond
I wish I had a small fortune to invest in TiVo stock. I woke up this morning thinking about my TiVo. I recently upgraded it with the Home Media option and attached (is that really the appropriate word?) it to my wireless network. So now it can stream audio and show pictures from other computers on the LAN. Now if they'll just add support streamed video, we're in business.
There's lots more I want to do with my TiVo. I should bite the bullet and crack the case to slip in another hard drive. I should enable it with telnet so I can install Tivo Web and other goodies. It is just a Linux computer after all.
Convergence at Last
But what about the average consumer? Where will TiVo will take them with the next service update? Perhaps a web browser (which could also serve as the interface for e-mail)? The Series2 boxes have a USB port which would allow for a keyboard/mouse (even a wireless keyboard with a built-in pointing device). With a net-enabled TiVo, it seems like a natural progression to support web browsing and e-mail (This is close, but no cigar. Give me the real deal, not just pictures of the top of my e-mails.).
My only problem with browsing the web from my TV is the crummy resolution. Hopefully a HDTV-compatible TiVo Series3 (for the rest of us, not just the DirecTV market) will address that. Of course, I'll have to get a high-def TV too. At least they're entering the atmosphere now. Series3 should come with a DVD player too. Not that we need it -- most TiVo owners already have DVD. But eliminating yet another device from the cabinet and another remote from the coffee table is sure to please. Not to mention being able to record direct from a DVD. And perhaps it could be done digitally instead of in analog -- or would that be a DMCA violation? Yeah, probably so.
TiVo has released an SDK for the new net-enabled TiVo 4.0 software. It provides sample Perl code (for Perl junkies like me) that allow you to serve audio and pictures from any web server. That's the kind of innovation you'd expect from TiVo. (Now can someone help me figure out how to grab my Vonage voice mail and serve it through this?)
With net-ready, web-enabled TiVos, we'll start to see some real blending between TV and the net. Yes, things like clickable hyperlinks on things like those news marquees you see on news channels. Or when you see a person's name captioned below their video panel, you could click that to learn more about that person. Perhaps a digital form of picture-in-picture would be used to maintain the video on-screen while browsing the related content. Or maybe it just pauses the video to let you read in full screen.
Years from now, when these DVRs have multi-terabyte* hard drives, we'll be able rid our living rooms of stacks of DVD cases. (Mine is starting to look like a rental store.) Simply loading the video into the video device much like you can with CDs today. The original media can then be placed into storage. If DRM controls are necessary to achieve that, then I'll have to live with it. Hopefully it won't come to that, but we must be realistic. Hollywood isn't going to allow the same freedoms we enjoy with CD audio. Even those may be lost some day if trends continue.
I also expect that we'll be using the TV for video e-mail and home-to-home video conferencing. That's a killer application waiting to happen. Something that would drive a market to broadband faster than Superman putting on his tights.
TiVo's future is by no means certain. Some have already written them off. I remain hopeful that they'll hang in there. Price is often cited as a reason why people aren't adopting TiVo and DVR technology. But if price is an issue, then you either add features (expect the Home Media features to come standard with future TiVos) or lower price and make up for it by other means. It's an incredible product. As Kevin Werbach says -- "In the case of TiVo, there are two classes of people in the world -- there are those who love TiVo and there are those who do not have a TiVo."
I'll leave you with some speculative thoughts and resources on these subjects for futher reading.
How TiVo could make money tomorrow
- Partner with
AOL(scratch that -- maybe Earthlink instead) for dial-up and broadband Internet service. Internet in a box. Plug-in, turn on. TiVo already has a modem and can access broadband as well. TiVo becomes an Internet appliance for those that don't need a full PC.
- Deals with movie advertisers to "deliver" movie trailers. (TiVo grabs scheduled broadcasted media clips in the wee hours of the morning. These could be delivered like that or via the net for broadband users.) Trailer could be followed with a discount ticket voucher code that could be redeemed online.
- Same idea as movies, but for upcoming concerts in your area. After accepting/declining a few of these offers, TiVo could better judge your interests and personalize future offers based on that feedback.
- Want a pizza? Hit *11 on the remote. Charges billed through your monthly TiVo service -- a portion of which TiVo takes for their trouble.
- Ordering/pre-ordering the DVD for the show you just watched.
- Yahoo! Digital and Interactive TV
- TiVo Community Forum
- Wired News: TiVo - The Rise of God's Machine
- Adage: Ad-Zapper Turned Ad-Hugger?
- Cable, TiVo combo could make for great TV
- For the brave: How to build your own TiVo system using FreeVo.
* Every time I use the term "terabyte" I get a giddy feeling in my stomach. I think -- "what would I do with all that space??". Then I think of how if someone told me 10 years ago that I would someday be carrying around a laptop with 40 gigabytes in it, I would laugh and say "what would I do with all that space??". Trust me, we will find a use for it.