January 31, 2005 6:30 AM PST

TiVo seeks new ideas from developers

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Digital-video recorder company TiVo announced Monday the release of a software development kit that lets third-party application makers add new features to TiVo's DVR service.

The move is part of a larger strategy, code-named Tahiti, to let DVRs download information and content from the Internet that wasn't possible to download before.

The company expects to release three applications with the kit. One will display on a television weather information gathered from a broadband-connected PC. Other applications include an RSS reader and a game. A home network and broadband connection are needed to take full advantage of the applications.

The Java-based kit will be available on SourceForge.net.

The company is out to show that the TiVo service "is much more than about DVR," said Howard Look, vice president of application and user experience at TiVo. "All the great ideas don't have to come just from us."

TiVo has been working on other aspects of the Tahiti strategy--which also includes a content delivery service and commerce capabilities--for over a year. It plans to introduce new features for its Series2 DVRs throughout the year.

The Tahiti strategy, at least in part, is a competitive response to efforts by cable and satellite operators to offer their own DVR services. The company aims to differentiate its service from more basic DVR products.

The software development kit is one way of achieving that goal. The Linux-based software behind the TiVo service has already been fertile ground for hackers, and while the company may have frowned on those efforts, it did little to stop such tinkering.

"In the past we had other priorities, but we always believed new applications were good," Look said.

3 comments

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Especially since the cable companies...
...offering will be closed. Open it up as a platform and they will come.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
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And the cable companies solution bites
Just got a Cable HD PVR added to my system to handle my HD content. Using Tivo for regular content. I have used the cable PVR for about 2 weeks now... and let me tell you... it sucks. Words cannot describe how bad it's software & remote is. I don't think the people that wrote that software have watched TV in their life (done offshore maybe?). Good grief what a pile it is. It really makes me appreciate my Tivo.

Opening up the tivo is a great step forward. Now if they would just hurry up and make a new box with HD and cablecard support so I can dump this lame cable thing. Argh. If they don't release that box until next year, I fear they may not survive.
Posted by (12 comments )
Link Flag
A few ideas...
1. Provide local control without always requiring the TiVo
service.
2. Provide MPEG-4/H264 recording formats for efficient file
compression.
3. Provide compatibility with AVI/DIVX/MOV file playback.
4. Provide USB2/Firewire connectivity for PC's and Mac's. and the
associated software (If the TiVO doesn't just show up as another
hard drive).
5. Provide user options to add hard drives for greater storage
capacity (if Idea #4 won't work in both directions).
6. Provide HDTV compatibility (720p and 1080i)
7. Provide component video outputs, and maybe DVI as well.
8. Provide both front panet and remote control options.

With these ideas implemented quickly enough, I just might buy a
TiVo, Otherwise, one of my Mac's pr PC's will take over the role.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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