Tivo Online Service

Tivo has just announced a new set of online services for users with a broadband connection. It looks like their adding support for several Yahoo! services including: photos (what about Flickr???), weather, and traffic. They’ll also offer access to the Live365 Radio Network, Fandango, and podcasts. I imagine that these will all be available for free and supported by branding and advertisements.

This is absolutely the direction that Tivo needs to be moving. From what I understand, their customers are being snatched up by cable and satellite companies that can also offer DVRs at a lower price and with better integration. Of course, the cable companies can also provide Internet access and will soon start offering VoIP phone service. Tivo has quite an uphill battle to fight if it wants to stay in the game. So here’s what I don’t understand. Why are these the only online services that are being offered, and why is it taking them so long to get them out the door?

It has been over a year since Tivo and Netflix partnered up. We haven’t seen anything come of that partnership except that it has been put on hold. Apparently, they had trouble clearing rights with the movie studios. Okay, so why not at least let users connect to their Netflix account to rate movies and manage their queue?

How hard would it be to integrate with Yahoo Games to provide both single player games and multi-player online games? They don’t need to support the whole catalog, but some games would be better than none. While they’re at it, they could provide at least a basic web browser (hopefully with Flash support). If they don’t want to spend the time porting games, then let the rest of the world do it.

The Tivo hardware is already a computer, and for a lot of people it’s a computer with broadband Internet access. Why not open it up so that anyone can develop applications to run on the hardware? Sure, it’s not going to work very well as a primary household computer, but it could be the most popular secondary computer. Of course, so could the Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Revolution, or Mac Mini — all of which could be connected to a tv and broadband Internet.

There’s a waiting list to try out these new online services. I’ve signed up, but it could take anywhere from three days to three weeks before I’ll be able to test it out. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Update: Be sure to read MegaZone’s comment.

2 Responses to “Tivo Online Service”

  1. MegaZone Says:

    The TiVo is only a 200MHz MIPS CPU with 32MB RAM, less powerful than most PDAs. And it has to make any recording tasks the priority, so it isn’t well suited to things like Flash.

    If you want to develop 3rd party applications for it, that’s what the Home Media Engine API and SDK is for: http://www.tivo.com/developer/

    There are already a number of HME applications out there – the most popular is Galleon: http://galleon.sourceforge.net/

    There are some hosted HME apps: http://www.apps.tv/

    TiVo had a contest already: http://www.tivo.com/4.3.hmewinners.asp

    And there are many other apps: http://hme.pvrblog.com/

    And there are many TiVo resources: http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=tivolovers

    The developer community is already tackling these issues.

  2. aaron Says:

    Wow! I had no idea. This is exactly the kinds of things I was hoping for. Thanks for the great links!

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