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.