Computer Insider: Show #2018-24

Today on Computer Insider, we look at a technology that changed the world we live in. Today we look at a gadget that redefined video, TiVo. When launched way back in 1999 it was called a “Personal Video Recorder”, but in reality was the forerunner to today’s DVRs. Essentially TiVo combined the functionality of a traditional VCR and combined it with a digital menu so you could record shows easily as well as pause or rewind live television.

Oops, the beginning of fast-forwarding through commercials. What a great idea. It also launched the concept of “time-shifting,” or the phenomenon of viewers watching content when it fits their schedule, rather than when the broadcaster thought that you should watch it.

The reality of TiVo is that the brand was so successful that it became a verb. TiVo continues to this day puts manufacturing some of the best set-top boxes on the planet.

But alas, like many technologies, they made a few mistakes that cost them big. They played nice when they should have dominated. For instance, instead of suing when cable companies rolled out their own DVRs, TiVo waited to see if they could work out a deal because it was reliant on the TV providers. Then, rather than marketing how much better TiVo boxes were than cable DVRs, the company tamed its revolutionary commercial-skipping features. And finally, when TiVo did sue, it was too late… cable company DVRs were everywhere. TiVo won all its patent infringement cases, bringing home $1.6 billion that has sustained the company to this day. But considering that many consumers think TiVo went out of business, in the end, did it really win? Maybe, because we can at least thank it for popularizing DVRs.