TiVo's new recorder: high-def, high-price
Two years after the first dual-tuner, high-definition DVRs hit the market, TiVo, the beloved-but-money-losing television recording pioneer, has unveiled its own next-generation model. "The Series3 HD box...represents TiVo's first major product upgrade since it released its networked Series2 DVR in 2002," writes USA Today, noting that the machines will have "a 250-gigabyte hard drive - enough to store about 32 hours of high-definition programming or up to 300 hours of standard programming," as well as two tuners, so that subscribers will be able "to record two different shows in HD at the same time while watching a third pre-recorded show."
The long delay between product offerings may explain in part why the company remains unprofitable. In the quarter ended July 31st, TiVo reported a loss of $6.45 million on sales of $59.2 million. Will the new box help? While early reviews suggest the S3 is a worthy product, much of the early Net buzz is stuck on the $799 price tag. The console will have to compete based on its good looks and quality components vs. lower-end settop boxes that cable companies give away for the price of a subscription.
And there is also the current generation of low-cost media center PCs to consider. One Engadget reader summarizes the math neatly:
$799 for the unit + $12.95/month for service = I won't be buying one.Others however, may prove more willing to open their wallets, and TiVo is certainly not shrinking from its high-end strategy. "Our objective was to build a best-in-class DVR," said TiVo's vice president of product marketing Jim Denney to USA Today. "It's reflected in the price and also in the make of the product." Fair enough. Let the market decide, says Engadget (see detailed review): "Units go on sale today at TiVo.com and should be showing up within the next week or so at Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, and Ultimate Electronics. Good luck on that decision!"
I am a stockholder in Tivo and it pains me to see it trying to keep producing and mass marketing the boxes instead of just licensing the software to the service providers. The 2nd is a much higher margin business with much less headache. I'm sure people at Tivo are smart but maybe they can help the shareholders understand their position.
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