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TiVo Relaunching As a Patent Troll? 335

An anonymous reader writes "TiVo's quarterly call was a bit more dramatic than usual. While they continue to lose customers and innovate 'at a very unhurried pace,' TiVo seeks a repeat DISH Network performance in going after AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) for infringement. Basically, TiVo's current business model appears to be ad sales and patent trolling."
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TiVo Relaunching As a Patent Troll?

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  • TiVo was cool... (Score:2, Interesting)

    but then TV got boring. So, I canceled all of that years ago. It's a shame they are becoming a troll though, cause I really liked it way back when.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kell Bengal ( 711123 )
      You make a good point - is this entirely a refleciton of changes in the TV market as a whole? TV sets still seem to be selling; I wonder how many are being sold to technologically adept people who buy things like Tivos, compared to more average people. I get the feeling that the continued paucity of quality TV might be driving away the kinds of people who would otherwise buy it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        TV seems to be more and more reality shows, dull sports and bad programs for children than anything else.

        When the peak of science during the week on TV is Mythbusters (nothing really wrong with them) then there is something really bad going on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dr_Ken ( 1163339 )
          With TV so fragmented and diverse now it's very hard for all but few shows to break out of the scrum and gain an audience. Just as with film studios the networks don't want niche viewers for quality programs (well maybe PBS does) they want blockbusters with high viewer ratings and long term rebroadcast royalties and DVD sales. Nobody wants a good but low rated Firefly; they all want a mega-hits like Seinfeld. As for reality shows they're cheap to produce.
    • by al0ha ( 1262684 )
      Tivo has tried to come out with some nice additions, like renting movies on demand. The stupid aspect of this offering is that you have to provide a credit card to another company such as Amazon. Why Tivo does not handle the charging transaction themselves is beyond me since they already have my CC number for the recurring monthly charges. So due to this I will not be renting any movies on demand from Tivo.

      • TiVo doesn't want to get into the content distribution business. Companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. already do this so there's plenty of competition in that area. The great thing about TiVo is that if you use one of these services it's easy to set it up to watch videos on demand. My girlfriend has Netflix but doesn't have a TiVo so we plugged her Netflix account info into my TiVo. Now whenever she's over at my place we can watch any of the movies that she's selected and is available to be watched via

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zstlaw ( 910185 )

      What is this TV thing people talk about? I haven't used my TV (except for video games and DVDs) for over a decade. I know no one outside work who talks about TV. It is much more common to hear about what is new on hulu or netflix. Are my friends just too techie? I always thought this was a growing trend among the younger more tech savvy audience.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In my experience, average people still do watch a lot of TV, but it seems they're becoming more focused, viewing TV as a means of accessing specific shows rather than as a general leisure activity ("I want to watch the next episode of X" vs. "I think I'll relax in front of the TV"). The American-Idol style shows, particularly America's Got Talent, still seem to be doing quite well.

        Although I observed this mostly in middle aged and older audiences, so perhaps the viewing patterns aren't the same for the youn

      • Well, I gave up tv in 04/05, but I'm not one of the "younger" audience. I'm 37. I grew up on TV. It was my babysitter and a member of the family. There were no video games or DVDs. We were too poor to own an Atari, and I was almost 10 before we would rent a VCR to watch a movie. So, kicking the TV habit took a bit more than you young whipper-snappers. But I started with TiVo in 01.
      • What is this TV thing people talk about? []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) *

      TiVo was cool... but then TV got boring.

      TV didn't get boring. TV always was boring. You just fell out of the large cross section that is the target of the major networks. Maybe you grew up, maybe your tastes changed or maybe you got sick of it. Don't get me wrong, I still watch Adult Swim now and then but everything else is by and large off the radar. I overhear my coworkers talking about modern TV and it's pretty painful. You can make a show called "The <insert adjective here> Housewives of <insert location here> County" and yo

      • I partially disagree. Yeah, the stuff my coworkers talk about is pretty awful. With all of the talent/singing/dance competitions, reality TV, house flippers, entertainment news and cookie-cutter, police procedurals, it can be pretty depresing, but HBO, Showtime, SyFy (ugh, I hate to saying that name) and yes, AS have done a really good job of picking up the ball and going out of the bounds of the 15-steps.

        As far as Adult Swim being doomed, I really don't see it happening too soon. They have a very loyal aud

      • I have TiVo. I bought the lifetime service plan when I first got it. I've got NetFlix on-demand through it. I love it.

        My brother had TiVo, but then Comcast gave away their DVR with his cable. He knows the Comcast software is inferior and the keypress lag is huge, but he can't justify the extra cost for TiVo's software, which he was paying monthly. It's hard to compete with free, especially when I'm actually paying an additional $8 a month to Verizon for the two cable cards in my TiVo.

        That's TiVo's big pr

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      In your opinion. Many people watch TV..millions upon million, in fact.

      As much as I loath 'reality TV' it is very popular

      I say this as someone who chooses not to pay a subscription to TV and get everything over the air or via the internet.

      I'm sure TiVo has it in mind to move into on demand type products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cro Magnon ( 467622 )

        As much as I loath 'reality TV' it is very popular

        Only a total idiot would watch (un)reality TV. That doesn't dispute your assesment of its popularity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I have a Series 1 Tivo; bought it about 10 years ago with a lifetime subscription. I late 2004, the cableco offered an HD DVR with HDTV, etc, so I switched to that configuration and stuck the old Tivo on the shelf. In 2008 I subscribed to Netflix, and thought the cableco DVR really wasn't needed anymore since I rarely watch live sports at home, and everything else of interest in HD was available on HD DVD or upscaled DVD.

      I looked at the Series 3 HD Tivo, and decided to get one because it was cheap enough to

    • Tivo is STILL cool, IMO. Unfortunately, it's dependent on a very uncool medium. When I first got Tivo, 90% of TV sucked, and Tivo helped me find the 10% that didn't. Now, I'm not even sure that there is 1% of TV that doesn't suck, and even Tivo can't find what doesn't exist.

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:41PM (#29220493)
      So why are they a patent "troll"? It's not like they're claiming some dubious invention as their own or claiming minor modifications are innovations. They invented the DVR and made it easy to use, along with ReplayTV. They created the market. As other copycats whittle away at the patents and see much they get away with, it's only natural for Tivo to try to hold on. The article basically sounds like someone with a gripe against Tivo which is never articulated.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:08PM (#29219007) Journal

    It's not like TiVo is a company set up to collect patents and then chase them down. They've had products on the market for years, would by many be said to have created the home digital recorder (and thus have attained many patents), still have products on the market, and other providers have created products that are now losing TiVo business.

    So if the patent is valid (I haven't read it) then surely TiVo have as much right to go after infringers as any other company that has its patents on its products infringed?

    • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:12PM (#29219071)
      True. But in the end, Tivo will be obsolete. You don't need a DVR to watch on demand shows via Netflix Watch It Now, Hulu, etc.
      • Be that as it may, it still boils down to calling James Cameron a leech on society just because you don't watch movies.

        Just like how copyright infringement doesn't become legal, just because you don't want to pay for the items (which is the equivalent of what AT&T and Verizon is being sued for doing).

        • Ok, then AT&T and Verizon should simply switch to offering standard TV and "On Demand" television shows, and not utilize a DVR in the home. Problem solved.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jeffshoaf ( 611794 ) *

            Ok, then AT&T and Verizon should simply switch to offering standard TV and "On Demand" television shows, and not utilize a DVR in the home. Problem solved.

            Or they can wait until TiVo's patent expires or they can pay licensing fees to TiVo. That's the way the patent system is supposed to work!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )
              I agree they should pay licensing fees if they use a Tivo interface. I don't believe they should have to pay licensing fees simply because they time-shift programming using a hard drive.
              • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:54PM (#29219751)

                Well, that's the thing. If TiVo has a patent on time-shifting using a harddrive, then that is what the patent covers. We may not like it, but then we should try to change the patent system instead of calling companies that try to defend the patents that they use in actual products "trolls".

                You may not believe, that you should have to pay a fee just to use an SUV in London - but those are the rules that society has agreed upon. You have two options - get the rules changed or face the music when you don't follow the rules.

                Now, if this was targeted at individual people building their own home made DVR, we could talk about trolling even though patents also cover those things. But here we're talking about AT&T and Verizon, two companies with a market cap of $156 billion [] and $88 billion [] respectively. They should know better. Okay, it's AT&T and Verizon - from what we hear about them on Slashdot, I doubt they DO know better. And if 10% of what we hear about here is true, they sure as hell don't deserve us defending them.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )
                  So because they use a slimmed down PC to do the timeshifting instead of a VCR, they immediately get to tax everyone who wants the capability? I think not. I would fully support AT&T and Verizon changing the backend technology to present the same functionality to the end user while not infringing on this "patent" (if that's what bullshit like this is called today). What then? Call the whambulance because it's not fair to Tivo? Welcome to the marketplace.

                  London charging a congestion tax is nothing like

                  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:25PM (#29221223)
                    If time shifting using a hard drive is an innovative idea, then the patent system should support that. And it was an innovative idea. Maybe it seems obvious and easy to implement now, but that's true for most innovations.

                    The whole purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation. In exchange for a temporary exclusive use of an idea, the idea is made public and later is usable by all. This encourages both innovation and openness. The alternative is secrecy.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Sure, as will all DVRs; however that's still years away.
        As much asI love Hulu it is lacking in show choices*, quality, and easily getting it to the TV, and competition not having a central location.

        * Yes, they ahve a lot but not a majority.

      • You don't need a DVR to watch on demand shows

        Oh, but you will, you will. Every service starts out without commercials, then a few, then they're crawling out of the screen like locusts. So eventually you will download your hulu into another program, then use that program to skip the inevitable commercial hoarde that is unleashed.

        If that program is sold by TiVo, that'll be fine with me.

    • It's not like SCO was set up to collect patents and chase them down. They've had products on the market for years...
    • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:35PM (#29219483)
      Worst of all for TiVO is that the service providers are intentionally trying to block them out of the market so they can provide their own DVR's based on TiVO's work. It's patents fighting against service monopolies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      The home digital recorder is a reflection of the state of the art in PC hardware and systems software.

      It doesn't represent anything patent worthy. The fact that Tivo managed to
      get some patents out of it just shows the inherent unsuitability of our
      current patent office.

      Their patent litigation is simply the result of not being able
      to compete in a marketplace of mediocre competitors that just
      happen to be gatekeepers for most of Tivo's potential customers.

      Tivo can't compete with "free" on the lowend and can't c

      • This post reminded me about he movie 'Flash Of Genius', which was based on actual events. Sometimes the patent is not for creating 100% new tools , but in the creativity of how you use exsisting tools.
  • boop-BOOP (Score:4, Funny)

    by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:11PM (#29219059)

    boop-BOOP ....
    Tivo recommends "GET YOURSELF A LAWYER"

  • Trlling? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:11PM (#29219061)

    It's not trolling if your patent truly covers an innovation, and your competitors copy it. In this case it's called "protecting your rights".

    • 'It's not trolling if your patent truly covers an innovation, and your competitors copy it. In this case it's called "protecting your rights"'

      Apart from the accusation that Dish illegally copied TiVo technology. I would have assumed that there were any number of methods of pausing, rewinding, and recording live television on digital video recorders. A PC, a tuner card, a dual head harddrive, and two instances of FFMPEG .. --

      Bill Gates' hurricane stopper []
  • The way I see it, this may have merit, similarly to Netscape vs. MS. - Why would anyone bother buying a tivo when they can just get it right with their cable bill?

    • or...

      build a desktop system with a couple of terabytes of disk space & Linux & MythTV
      • by Suzuran ( 163234 )
        Because the local cable monopoly has proprietary data on the wire requiring the use of a proprietary set-top box. This makes it impossible to use Myth, since you cannot plug the cable line into a capture card. You can plug the output of the STB into Myth and record it, but the remote protocol is proprietary as well so Myth cannot change channels, in addition to analog degradation of the digital signal. Tivo suffers from the same issues. The moral of the story is that you use Comcast's DVR or none.
    • by VeryVito ( 807017 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:18PM (#29219163) Homepage
      Every time I've set up new cable service, I try the local carrier's DVR flavor... and so far, I have always gone back to TiVo. TiVo actually DOES have a nice product with several innovative features. Protecting one's patent does NOT make one a troll: it makes one a patent holder. The original poster seems to think all patents should be abolished (which would kinda suck for encouraging some innovations).
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Nope. He probably doesn't think that patents on "ideas" should exist.

        A lot of the more bogus recent patents are effectively that.

        The rather difficult task of building the mousetrap isn't the
        thing subject to a government enforced monopoly, the IDEA of
        a mousetrap is.

        The whole "bundleware" thing is a tragedy but allowing bogus patents isn't the answer.

    • by Lost Engineer ( 459920 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:20PM (#29219197)

      Why would anyone bother buying a tivo when they can just get it right with their cable bill?

      Because the cable company charges usurious rates and extra fees for a DVR with a crap interface that's littered with bugs? The only thing stopping me from switching to Tivo currently is on demand. You have to keep a box from the cable company for that to work, since cable card does not support it, and they charge you for it.

      • by Heem ( 448667 )

        Agreed with your points, but Internet Explorer is a piece of crap littered with bugs as well.. but yet many didn't use netscape (or even now still an alternate browser).

        Point is, majority of people don't understand that they have choice because they are lead to believe that they do not.

      • "Because the cable company charges usurious rates and extra fees for a DVR with a crap interface that's littered with bugs? The only thing stopping me from switching to Tivo currently is on demand. You have to keep a box from the cable company for that to work, since cable card does not support it, and they charge you for it."

        This is interesting....I was wondering if anyone out there actually used On Demand....

        I've only met one person I know that ever used it.

  • by reebmmm ( 939463 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:15PM (#29219109)

    So this should be tagged "!troll" "badsummary" and "bitterposter" because I'm not entirely sure that this summary does it any justice. First, TiVo is not a troll for at least the reason that they actual manufacture products embodying the patent, have done so for a long time, and actually have revenue related to both hardware and subscription fees. [citation needed ;)].

    Second, together with ReplayTV (now Motorola?), TiVo really was an innovator in this space. Whether these particular patents were innovative was at least decided with respect to DishNetwork. AT&T and Verizon will now get their chance to try to invalidate it. Who knows, maybe they have some damn good art.

    • Yeah, it almost makes me wonder if this is a bit of astro-turf done by someone from AT&T or Verizon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Further, the "unhurried pace" quote actually refers to dealing with an expired Java certificate in their desktop software (i.e. nobody's working on fixing it quickly.) "Innovating at an unhurried pace" is misleading and unsupported by the quote referenced.

  • by jeffshoaf ( 611794 ) * on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:15PM (#29219119)
    I think TIVO is using the patent system exactly as it was intended. They invented something unique and successfully marketed it, but then various cable and satellite companies decided to not (or to stop) paying the licensing fees and create similar devices. Let's face it, the cable companies aren't all that inovative on their own and they probably wouldn't have come up with the idea for a DVR w/o seeing TIVOs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alteran ( 70039 )

      Agreed. TiVo wouldn't pass the purity-or-death Richard Stallman no-compromises test, but let's face it-- the cable industry cheated TiVo by locking them out, using all sorts of non-competitive practices including subsidized PVRs, turning CableCard into a joke, etc.

      TiVo is definitely doing something I don't love, but they are essentially fighting douchebaggery with douchebaggery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Let's face it, the cable companies aren't all that inovative on their own and they probably wouldn't have come up with the idea for a DVR w/o seeing TIVOs.

      You can't patent an idea, only an invention or a process. If Mr. Coffee has patents on their coffee maker, it doesn't mean that nobody else can make coffee makers, it means nobody can use their way of making a coffee makers.

      My former brother in law worked in a manufacturing plant, and the boss would hand him some gizmo or another and say "can we make thes

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aengblom ( 123492 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:17PM (#29219141) Homepage

    It's probably a better business model than

    1. Spend lots of money to invent the mousetrap
    2. Spend more money to make it better
    3. Allow cable/satellite to build 80% of your ideas into their own equipment and cut you out of any revenues
    4. Profit

  • NOT a Patent Troll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:19PM (#29219179)
    I know people are keen to brand anyone who files patent infringement lawsuits as a patent troll but a real patent troll owns patents but makes nothing - their line of business is to buy patents and sue companies. TiVo actually produces something. They have products and offer something to customers. They are simply enforcing their patents. You are welcome to question the validity of their patents; you are welcome to question the wisdom in starting patent wars with other major companies but, let's keep our discussion real - they are not patent trolls.
  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:21PM (#29219219)

    As someone who is a DirectTV subscriber I can only hint at how much myself and every other DVR user they have that I have talked to miss Tivo when it was DirecTV's DVR offering. This "homebrew" or whatever DirectTV is calling it blows on a level hard to describe.

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      build a Mythtv. That is what I use and it rocks.
      • by Churla ( 936633 )

        I have heard this from many people. It's on my somewhat long "projects" list, but it was nice having a device that did what I wanted that I didn't have to build myself.

      • by gauauu ( 649169 )

        The funny thing is I wasn't that impressed with MythTV. Sure it had a lot of functionality, but the user interface wasn't very good, and it broke down regularly.

        First it was that the database got corrupted and shows wouldn't fast forward properly. Then it was that one of the channels mysteriously couldn't record sound (although it could with other apps on my system). Then it was something after that. It seems like I was messing with the configuration every 3 or 4 months.

        Sadly (as I liked the idea of a f

      • by Ares ( 5306 )

        except that it can't replace my directv high-def receiver. at least not while recording and re-displaying in high-definition.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Write your senator.

      Ask them why it isn't trivial for a Tivo or MCE or MythTV to interface with DishTV and record HD content.

      Trashing the free market isn't going to help anything. It will just
      replace some mediocre monopolies with a slightly less mediocre

      Tivos were nice in 1999. They are a bit dated now.

      We need more 3rd party Tivo knock offs.

  • Not a troll (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:22PM (#29219245) Homepage Journal

    It's a legitimate case for used technology.

    A patent troll is just someone who patents lots of 'ideas' and then sue whoever happen to have something similar in the market.

  • GMAFB, protecting one's patents != patenttroll.

    Having said that, TFA is, questionable objectivity aside, a model of a well researched blog posting.

  • by kmcrober ( 194430 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:34PM (#29219471)

    I'm a long-term TiVo user, but this story reminds me of my simmering frustration with TiVo. Years ago I used a Hauppauge card, and their interface had innovations that TiVo still hasn't picked up on, like a vastly superior conflicts-resolution system. Is there a decent alternative to TiVo, with a better interface? Cable-company solutions are generally poor, as I understand it, and I frankly don't have time to roll my own Myth system. (I would consider an out-of-the-box Myth product, though.) I'd appreciate informed recommendations.

    • by TBone ( 5692 )
      Define "superior conflicts-resolution system". Currently, TiVo's scheduler is smart enough to, through the priority set in your season passes, work around jsut about any conflict. For overlaps, TiVo's now offer you the ability to trim/crop recordings that overlap in one direction or the other (end one early or start one late). What did the Hauppage system do differently that those of us on TiVo don't realize we're missing?
  • .... you can sit on your ass, hire some lawyers, and soak up millions via your government granted monopoly. Or you can roll up your sleeves and work your ass off innovating, servicing customers, and building up a customer base. What the frick would you choose?!

    • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:53PM (#29219723) Homepage Journal

      .... you can sit on your ass, hire some lawyers, and soak up millions via your government granted monopoly.

      That's what the cable companies do.

      Or you can roll up your sleeves and work your ass off innovating, servicing customers, and building up a customer base

      That's what TiVO did.

      Sadly, it looks like they're quickly going out of business. The government should have mandated a universal standard for Satellite and Cable boxes so that TiVO (and any other manufacturer) could easily interface. Instead, we have a slapdash mix of ever-changing technologies like ATSC, QAM, SDV, etc and it's very difficult to design to a moving target (as anyone who has attempted to use a TiVO with CableCard knows).

      • I agree with everything you wrote. TiVo did innovate. Cable and satellite companies made it impossible to keep up. And the government/FCC should have stepped in and did something.

        However, that doesn't change the fact that TiVo is now basically a patent troll. Sure they sell products, but their future income will come from patent settlements, not customers.

  • The patent system is designed to give innovators a temporary monopoly on their innovation, in order to encourage that innovation.

    I don't think most people would argue with saying Tivo was an innovator, unlike the "troll" companies who have no product except to enforce patents that they acquired rights to.

    Tivo has a product, and they have a legitimate right to enforce their patent rights against companies infringing on those patents.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:59PM (#29219823) Journal
    Sometime in the 1980s someone had the bright idea to make nuclear powered airplanes. They looked up the patents and found Richard Feynman (yes, the Feynman) had patented it already in 1940s. So they decided to recruit him to lead the new company. Feynman had completely forgotten about that patent.

    What had happened was that the army sent a captain to talk to all scientists working in the Manhatten Project and patent all the innovative ideas. Feynman told this captain, "Well, energy is just energy and you have this nuclear energy now. Just use this in any old thing that needs energy and presto! you got a patent. Put it in a ship Nuclear Powered Ship, put it in a plane, Nuclear Powered Airplane. Put it in a sub... you get the idea." A couple of weeks later the captain returned and said, "Well the ship and the sub are taken. But the plane... Its yours!".

    Funny thing about the incident is, the Government would buy all these patents back from the scientists for a nominal sum of 1$. So the captain made Feynman sign it over to the government. Feynman demanded his dollar. The captain said, it was just a formality. But Feynaman stood his ground. "I want my dollar." So the captain, out of frustration, just gave him a dollar out of his pocket to get it over with. Actually setting up the paper work to collect 1$ from the government would have been too much of a hassle. So Feynman did what he always does. He bought donuts (for lot more than a dollar I assume) started going around the lab saying, "Have a donut, I got a dollar from the Army for my patent". The lab was full of people who had signed over 40 or 50 patents to the government. They all started pestering the captain for their dollars. And Feynman had a hearty laugh at the captain.

    Most of these patents do not strike me as non-obvious at all. Just "do the same old thing, but now with computers!" and apply for a patent.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:11PM (#29220033) Homepage
    What we have here is a simple situation.

    Technology was not being developed because the people with the power did not want it ruining their business. (i.e. TV and cable/satelite tv execs)

    Finally, innovative customers risked their own hard earned cash and developed the technology.

    It immediately became a huge success. A new word was formed - to tivo it.

    Finally the cable execs realized that they were losing business so they used their installed monopoly on black boxes to take over the business. They tried hard to ignore the copyrighted new word and replace it with "dvr it". Too bad dvr has no vowel.

    The innovator that created the business could not compete with the installed monopoly base of black boxes. They tried to pass laws to let them sell the black boxes, but the cable companies effectively weakened those laws. They got destroyed not because they did not have a superior product but simply because of the monopoly factors (i.e. I can buy a Tivo but I still have to pay the cable company to rent a cable box - why pay twice?)

    This is why patents exist - to protect the profits of the inventors that actually took the risks and created the product from the slimy large businesses that come in after the product is created and steal customers away.

  • by UttBuggly ( 871776 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:55PM (#29220741)

    I'm disappointed that TiVO has made some spectacularly bad decisions in their business dealings, but for me, they still make a better mousetrap.

    I've done my own DVR, had a Cox (SciAtl 8300) DVR, and now, DirecTV's abortion of a solution. (Just bought a farm where cable is apparently unavailable FOREVER, due to the location and population density)

    The device/service I still own and love is my TiVO HD. It just works SO much better and more reliably than anything else I've got or built. The NetFlix, Amazon, and YouTube on-demand stuff is nice and used a LOT. I live 10 miles from the closest video store, so those features have real value for me.

    Plus, TiVO's customer service people and website are FAR superior to DirecTV and Cox.

    Last night, we had a big rain come through. "Searching for satellite" was the only thing on DirecTV. My TiVO unit, connected to a Terk HD antenna, enabled us to watch local stations until the storms passed. Plus, my DSL stayed up (it's iffy out in the sticks on a GOOD day), so I watched part of a movie on NetFlix via the TiVO.

    IF, and I'm doubting it a lot, TiVO and DirecTV actually release a TiVO'd satellite box this fall, I'm moving to that BECAUSE of the TiVO software/service.


It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead