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TiVo Mobilizes

Jeff Baumgartner
11/25/2008

11:40 AM -- The wires are chock-full of stories this morning touting TiVo Mobile, a free "mobile phone-optimized" site that enables TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) subs to schedule recordings remotely. Non-subs can use it to browse and search for TV shows. (See TiVo Goes Mobile.)

Although anyone with an Internet-connected cellphone can use some elements of the new service, the most interesting benefit (the ability to set recordings remotely) is another attempt by TiVo to make its stand-alone DVRs stand out from more "generic" offerings from cable operators. It's already attempting to do this with a wide range of broadband-fueled, over-the-top (OTT) content offerings in tandem with Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), and other partners. (See Netflix Streaming Coming Soon to a TiVo Near You.)

But, as well all know, TiVo is trying to play both sides of the fence. Although it wants to sell boxes and subscriptions loaded with all the bells and whistles, it's also pushing a partnership strategy with U.S. cable operators -- namely Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. -- and porting a subset of the full-fledged TiVo service to digital cable boxes. (See Cox Tees Up TiVo Test Bed and Comcast Expands TiVo Footprint .)

And, once again, it looks as if TiVo is keeping some of its more interesting goodies tethered to its retail strategy. While it's understood that MSOs don't want TiVo-powered cable boxes to encroach on their video-on-demand revenues with OTT offerings, it's too bad that the remote scheduling feature evidently won't be part of TiVo's cable box package.

We've asked TiVo to clarify this (and we'll update this item when we hear back), but, according to today's official announcement, the remote scheduling element TiVo Mobile applies only to its Series2 and Series 3 devices. So, the Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) cable box ports are left out.

But, when TiVo finally reveals its tru2way product strategy, the DVR pioneer's cable story might change quite a bit. (See TiVo à la Mode .)

UPDATE: A TiVo official confirmed that the remote scheduling component of TiVo Mobile is not compatible with the ports being distributed by Comcast and Cox, but noted that the capability might be added later on.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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