It was bad enough when DirectTV severed their relationship with Tivo. That was the moment I first decided I wasn’t probably going to buy the next version of the product. I doubt they’ll be much of a market leader in two years if they don’t figure out a way to offer a unique product to their market.
The latest body blow to Tivo is iTunes and Google Video.
I just spent the weekend exclusively watching TV shows I bought off of iTunes. iTunes has out-Tivo’ed Tivo. You know the refrain you always used to give people, "I love Tivo because it frees me from having to sit down and watch a tv show at a particular time?" Well iTunes frees you from even having to plan that you want to watch a show and record it. Failed to catch the miniseries pilot for Battlestar Galactica? Sarah did, and we bought it on iTunes this weekend and watched it.
On it’s best day, Tivo is still only as good as the channel feed you’ve got. It’s still a time-based medium, and you still have to wait for stuff you want to see to be played. iTunes however doesn’t have that problem. And their inventory is growing by leaps and bounds.
Sarah, proving she’s smart even when thinking in areas not her expertise, nailed it on Sunday night. "Why don’t we just ditch cable and watch stuff off of iTunes?" Between satellite and cable, media streams are becoming a commodity, and if you never watch anything but items you pre-record, why not?
Price. (There’s also a selection and availability issue with iTunes) The dark side of the new consumerist convenience of iTunes-as-Tivo is price. Your break even point for buying a Tivo vs. buying everything off iTunes is about 50 episodes. Once you’ve blown money on 50 episodes, that Tivo starts to look like a good deal.
It’s interesting though, the market just shifted radically but the impact won’t be felt for at least a year, at which point technology writers will start to write stories like, "Who needs Tivo when you’ve got iTunes?"