TiVo has scrapped plans to split itself into two separate companies, and instead announced a $3 billion merger with Xperi, a company that sells audio, imaging and computing technology products…. The combo will create a company with more than 10,000 patents and patent applications with “minimal licensee overlap,” according to TiVo and Xperi. They claim the new Xperi will be one of the largest technology-licensing companies in the world, spanning entertainment content, consumer electronics and semiconductors.
It always comes back to the patents.
I bought the first TiVo not too long after it came out in 1999. With the exception of a brief retreat to DirecTV’s DVR product (which was… not great), I’ve been using TiVo for about 20 years. It is a product that I love despite the horrible mismanagement that has followed it across multiple companies over the years. Despite its slow adoption of HD. Despite its disastrous “Hydra” user interface redesign.
Today’s TiVo, which is merging with Xperi to create a new company called Xperi that still sells products under the TiVo brand, is not even the original TiVo. It’s a company that used to be called Rovi, which changed its name when it bought TiVo a few years ago. The TiVo product line itself seems to just be a flimsy cardboard wrapper around a whole bunch of patents, as it has felt for most of its existence.
I watch a lot less “traditional” TV than I used to. I subscribe to HBO via my cable company, but I just watch HBO shows on the HBO GO app on my Apple TV. Most of what I watch these days, I watch via app. TiVo is for sports and “Mr. Robot” and PBS shows and “The Good Place” and not a whole lot else.
I came to the realization a while ago that I’m probably using my last DVR. This product category has served me well for two decades, but the future is in the cloud and I would not be surprised if I exited 2020 using an over-the-top service like YouTube TV for my sports and broadcast stuff instead of a traditional DVR.
If TiVo was a vibrant company offering a best-in-class interface, I’d be loath to drop it. But it’s been moribund for years and things just keep getting worse. This is the way it ends, alas. I wish Xperi and Rovio the best of luck in exploiting their combined patent portfolios in the future.