My article yesterday talked about the potential for an Apple partnership with Netflix on their upcoming iTV device. Apple's mysterious iTV would be the delivery vehicle for the upcoming Netflix digital download service, or so the theory goes. The other potential Apple partner is TiVo.
Apple's pre-announcement of the iTV has been generating a lot of speculation about what the device actually does and who Apple may partner with for the all-important content. Since Jobs is the largest shareholder of Disney and on the board, Disney content is pretty much a given. As is content from ABC ESPN, Lifetime, A&E, History, Biography and E! which Disney owns.
Earlier in the month Apple was rumored to be in talks with TiVo about a potential partnership, but details remain vague. If iTV has a hard drive, as indicated by Disney CEO Bob Iger, then it makes sense that Apple would build-in DVR-like functionality.
Apple's rumored talks with TiVo elicit the same questions that I brought up yesterday about Netflix: 1) Should Apple build their own DVR (ala the cable companies) vs. buy TiVo? If they decide to buy, then should they 2) buy vs. partner/license.
It's no secret that TiVo's financial picture isn't as strong as it once was, nor that Apple has US$10.11 Billion in cash in the bank, so the rumors are justified.
If they don't want to acquire TiVo, Apple may decide to license their excellent DVR technology to include in iTV. But If Apple doesn't want to acquire TiVo then Google may. On CNBC a Business 2.0 editor pointed out that Google and TiVo are really in the same business (search) and Google could apply its ad model to monetize TiVo.
On 14 April 2005 TiVo CFO David Courtney stated that TiVoToGo would not work with the Mac "because of the cost." Then in November 2005 TiVo changed course and announced that TiVoToGo would work with the Mac in Q1 2006. To date the company still hasn't been able to deliver on its promise.
Microsoft Media Center machines do media streaming now. But I want iTV to have a built-in hard drive, Web browser, Blue-Ray DVD player, Netflix Online, TiVo and an iPod dock - Is that too much to ask?
If all iTV does is stream video content to your TV it will be a disappointment. Based on the fact that the otherwise super-stealthy Steve Jobs pre-announced the iTV, I'm betting that Apple has some tricks up their sleeves.