I love DVRs, and I think TiVo is the best of the lot. But that doesn't make it a good business. Back in the late 1990s there was a business called Kozmo.com It would deliver DVDs, video games, Diet Coke, Kit Kat bars and even Palm Pilots and game consoles directly to your door like it was Chinese food. I loved, loved, loved Kozmo.com. Madden, candy bars and caffeine. I was one happy Kozmo.com customer. But Kozmo.com was a bad business, and it went out of business.
TiVo does have a business in its intellectual property and to some degree selling data but selling hardware and monthly subscriptions is a bad business. Especially when the cable companies give the hardware away with cheaper monthly subscription fees.
While I like NewTeeVee a lot, I wish Om Malik would write more for that site. Most of the writers writing on NewTeeVee do not have the sharp critical eye Om has. Yesterday NewTeeVee ran an interesting article about updates to TiVo that Tivo should've made a year ago. But when I see ridiculous nonsense like: "Next, it's quite apparent TiVo is feeling the heat from Vudu," it definitely gives me pause.
Vudu is a piece of hardware for $249 (already down from $299 ) you hook up to your TV and broadband internet connection that allows you to download movies for a fee. If TiVo is a dumb business, Vudu is even dumber and apparently a bad implementation of a bad business on top of it. Plus it has no customers to speak of yet, how can TiVo be feeling the heat?
Making changes to TiVo's Amazon's Unbox downloads so that you can start watching a movie before it's fully downloaded just makes good product sense. As bad as we may perceive TiVo's business, TiVo with a DVR and offering movies via Unbox is a way better business than Vudu (of course that still doesn't make it a good business!).
Om Malik believes the tech industry is in a bubble - though he thinks it may take 2 years to burst (I'm with him right down the line), but his writers are drinking the Kool-Aide - which is just "bubble talk"! I hope Om starts contributing to NewTeeVee more with his analytical sensibilities.
Like the ill-fated Kozmo.com, there are many great services that some people will love, love, love that don't make for good businesses. I consider TiVo be one of them with its current business model.