Monday, November 30, 2009

TiVo and the Pony Express

The Pony Express was an iconic business service that cut mail delivery time from the East (Missouri) to the West (California) down to days. Even today most people recognize the name Pony Express even if they don't know the history.

The truth is the Pony Express was a fairly short lived service - from April 1860 to October 1861. That's it. Just a year and a half in business but forever in the collective memory of the country.

I think TiVo is destined to a similar fate.

Everybody recognizes the name TiVo today. You hear TiVo and even if you've never owned a TiVo box you think of being able to watch your shows when you want to. A tremendous improvement over the existing services (or lack of services) prior to TiVo just like how the Pony Express was a great improvement of the delivery services of its day.

The Pony Express was doomed by a triple-threat of expanding railway lines, telegraph lines that could deliver messages in minutes not days and the Civil War which disrupted everything. TiVo today also faces a triple-threat. The service is really just a hard drive with scheduling software. Most cable and IPTV providers are now deploying set top boxes that have built in DVR capabilities. Most cable and IPTV providers have some sort of VoD service that includes access to many of the same shows people were using their TiVo's to record. Services like YouTube, Hulu and web sites of content providers like NBC allow for on-line viewing of some of the shows TiVo was being used to record as well. The new technology is making TiVo redundant. Just as the telegraph pretty much eliminated the need for the Pony Express.

However, having said that - I can see the name "TiVo" remaining in the consciousness of the American public just as people remember the Pony Express.

No comments:

Post a Comment