Since I’m now apparently in charge of product development, here are some of the things I would like to see from my division:
At the mall this weekend I saw a Windows XP Media Center Edition display that had MCE running on a couple big screen TVs with couches in front of them and a hired goon to explain what was going on. TiVo should copy that right this second. realized long ago that it had to be experienced to be understood, this is an alternative to using customer evangelists.
People become transfixed when there’s a TV in sight, this should be exploited in public places. The TV should be hooked up to a cable feed, loaded with a ton of popular programs (call NBC, they have a stake in TiVo’s success) and people should be able to come by and see just how great TiVo is.
TiVo also gave away a buttload of units a few years ago. It’s time to do it again, but this time to places like sports bars. Show them how they can pause the game and get instant replays.
Back to the competition, let’s look at what Windows Media Center Edition provides. First, it’s way more expensive than TiVo’s $99 entry point, their entry point is something like $130, and that doesn’t include hardware. Why hasn’t marketing added this to those overly-stylistic New Yorker ads?
Windows Media Center Edition has a full SDK meaning that people can build all sorts of additional tools that people want. TiVo has an SDK that allows people to interface with the TiVo Desktop software. That’s like the difference between a PC and an I-Opener, note which one is still in business. If TiVo became an open platform, it would become the platform for digital media.
While we’re talking about accepting the benefits of the network effects that come with an open platform, take a look at what’s happening with PodCasting and video blogs. Why can’t I upload a video of my nephew’s birthday to a family blog and have it show up as content on all my family’s TiVo’s?
TiVo has a lot of dedicated fans (that’s not news) and those dedicated fans could build the services that TiVo needs to stay competitive. It’s only a matter of time before Torrerntocracy comes out for Windows Media Center Edition, and TiVo will be the Minidisc to Microsoft’s iPod.
I know this is hard to hear, tough love always is, but TiVo can’t stay closed forever. I know everyone at TiVo is afraid of being sued into oblivion like ReplayTV. Get over it, Microsoft has a stake in PVRs not being illegal and they will provide support for the legal battles that happen. Don’t work too closely with them, because they will destroy TiVo, but get them to help out in the battle to save PVRs.
In summary, get TiVo in front of people so us evangelists can stop dragging people over to show them how great it is and open up the damn platform. Oh, and stop announcing things like TiVo-to-go and then letting them languish. Release early and often, and let the general public do the same. Embrace the amateur media revolution, become the platform for digital media instead of just broadcast media (the Home Media Option was a good start but don’t let it stop there).
PS, have someone at HR get in touch with me, I still haven’t gotten my salary information, parking information, or come to think of it, anything about my new job there.
He drew an analogy with the Web browser which, when introduced, sold for forty dollars. But as the Internet developed, browsers not only became free, but also became platforms for companies including Amazon.com and eBay to run billion-dollar businesses.
Ramsay also predicted a fundamental change in TV entertainment over the next five years. Some 20 percent of TV programming will be broadband rather than broadcast, and will include specialized digital content (think games, other forms of interactive entertainment, and customized shopping) that broadcasters can’t offer over ordinary cable lines.
Too bad they don’t say what the analogy between TiVo, eBay and Amazon is. Amazon and eBay are so successful because the embrace user-created content (reviews and auctions). They admit that good content will be coming from the Internets, what they fail to acknowledge is that there’s already good content. Why can’t I add a season pass for Red vs. Blue or Strongbad Emails or whatever videoblog I like? Make it so, number one!