Apple TV and TiVo?

Could a next generation Apple TV not only run iOS, but also TiVo's awesome DVR software? That's what the rumors on the webs are saying.

It seems hard to reconcile both a new, tiny, solid-state Apple TV powered by iOS with the bigger, beefier needs of local HD video recording an playback, so I'm taking this with a grain of salt, especially considering Steve Jobs' comments at the last D8 conference.

But at the same time the thought of iOS apps, iTunes streaming, and TiVo local recording makes me positively giddy with want. (And probably makes the upcoming Google TV slightly less competitive).

What do you think? Make Apple TV lean and mean and focused on the stream, or give it the TiVo treatment?

[Barrons via TUAW]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 21 comments. Add yours.

jlc says:

I'd love that - as a long time TiVO user I think marrying Apple's tech with TiVO's features would be fantastic. That would give Apple TV a missing piece of the home video hub - DVR capabilities; making it an almost all in one solution (need a way to control cable / satellite or a mCard capability) Adding it to OSX would be vene better. Now, if Apple actually bought Tivo and Elgato...

devonair says:

this would be my dream device!!!

rj5570 says:

i just hope they dont screw apple tv owners. I hope the update our devices. I just got mine last april. I will be very angry if they screw us over, but that seems to be the way apple rolls when they release new devices.

Rene Ritchie says:

@RJ:
They would have to release new hardware with a TV-tuner built in. And you wouldn't be "screwed" at all, you would simply have bought an older version. The next version will always be better.
You're entitled to what you bought when you bought it. Anything else is frosting. (Luckily, Apple has so far provided lots of frosting when it comes to software updates).

excaliburca says:

If that was true at all... I'd actually consider getting an Apple TV. I love my two TiVos (thinking of getting a third).

Dennis says:

Unlikely, IMO. Apple doesn't acknowledge media content from any other source than the iTunes Store and music CDs - and even there, the music CDs snuck in with the iPod before there was an iTunes Store. They have skipped DVDs, BluRay, analog TV, and digital TV up until now. According to their media distribution and consumption model, consumers should prefer to subscribe to TV shows via the iTunes Store, in hi def and free of commercials, rather than pay for cable or satellite TV. Apple has already arranged their deals so that video purchases from iTunes can work on Apple TV, the iPhone and iPod Touch, and computers, which is much more portability than we're going to get out of a DVR these days.
DVR functions have been largely incorporated into digital TV boxes owned by cable/satellite TV companies, who trade the value of airing commercials for 1) an intimate knowledge of what people are recording (a new source of ratings for TV shows); 2) control over where those recordings go (i.e., nowhere); and 3) the ability to monitor when those digital recordings of TV broadcasts get put up on Youtube illegally.
I don't see Apple getting into this game. More likely they would have special arrangements to bring TV show subscriptions with more variety and at a lower price than they have already.

Dennis says:

I forgot to mention the iPad as a portable means of viewing video content from the iTunes Store.
I could see Apple working to bring video streaming to its iOS devices, which will include the next Apple TV. But again, no TiVO like functions are coming to Apple products IMO.

Mike says:

I love my TiVo. In fact, it's the reason I don't have an AppleTV. Between my TiVo handling DVR functions and my PS3 taking care of video streaming, and AirPort Express for audio streaming, I don't really have a need for an AppleTV. If the AppleTV integrated a TiVo, I would probably buy one when I was next going to update my TiVo. But I don't think this is going to happen, and the reason is pretty simple actually.
The TiVo service is fantastic. It blows the generic cable company DVRs out of the water. It's much better at recognizing new vs repeated programs, and does a better job at pretty much everything in general. It's also smart enough to figure out what kind of content you like, and uses the free space on it's hard drive to record that kind of content. But there's one fatal flaw with TiVo that will keep Apple from fully adopting their service. The TiVo interface, even though it is better than a generic DVR's, is painfully slow.
I love my TiVo, but every time I hit the TiVo button and have to wait 4 seconds for the menu to pop up, I cringe. Even worse is when you are scheduling recordings. The system flat out refuses to let you do anything while it works. You're presented with an archaic "Please Wait" notice that can sometimes stick around for an entire minute. Why can't the system do these routine tasks in the background? I don't know. So as good as the TiVo system is, I just don't think it is anywhere near Apple's standard of quality for a user interface, and that will keep Apple from adopting it.
The only way I can see it working out is if AppleTV connects to the TiVo system for recording/scheduling/etc but has an entirely separate, Apple-designed front end that doesn't suck.

Dominick says:

I can't see how they can incorporate the iOS in apple TV. iOS is built for touch screen devices. if they make a muli-touch tv then maybe they'll make an iOS apple TV, until then expect a totally different operating system for apple tv

SheiknetChris says:

I do not have the desire to pay for all iTunes TV content, let alone cable.
Apple needs to consider ad-supported content, or even partnering with Netflix or Hulu. Can Apple do it? I hope the iPad/iPhone apps by those 2 providers are an indicator.

SheiknetChris says:

@Dominick:
The iOS supports keyboards and Apple Remotes. Touch is an important part of the iOS, but not the only input scheme.
Also note that iOS is similar to OS X at the core, which Apple TV already uses. It would just require a presentation layer on top for navigation.

DeathGrip says:

If AppleTV carries TiVo, I am in...

(Copy of) Dev says:

I love my TiVO, but I find this hard to believe. Apple's not-invented-here syndrome is surpassed only by their not-designed-here syndrome. As good as TiVO is, it does not seem likely that Jobs and Ivie are hunkered down in Cupertino thinking that the Linux-based TiVO (yes, TiVO has modified the kernel, source available http://bit.ly/c071aJ ) and its remote-control-based interface are better than anything Apple can do.
If Apple truly believes TiVO does it better than Apple can, I could see them buying TiVO -- who would come cheap these days -- to bring that expertise in-house, but using/licensing somebody else's software or hardware? Doubtful.

Sevenfeet says:

I disagree with Dev. Apple has a long history of working and expanding products "not-invented-here". The original iPod interface, iTunes, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Shake, and most recently, Lala. What's different here is that Apple usually just writes a check for said company and you never hear from them again until Apple is ready for it's version of the product. Tivo has a decade-long history and although small, they are high profile. What is weird about this rumor is that I can't see what Tivo brings to the table technically that Apple can't already do in-house, except maybe deal with Cablecards.
Then there's what kind of product that could come out of this. Let's say that a new Apple TV "now comes with Tivo!" Apple never gives billing too anyone else's hardware or software. No Intel inside, no Java tie ins, no nothing but Apple.
Tivo does have a patent portfolio that they have been defending in court. And that plus the years of venture capital sunk in them makes them too expensive for most suitors (I mean, you'd think that Dish network would have just bought these guys like Slingbox ages ago). Again, Apple could easily write that check. But would buying Tivo have any decent return on investment, especially in a business model that Apple hasn't shown any willingness to duplicate?

Redshirt says:

I wouldn't be surprised if Apple bought Tivo. If only "for their programmers".

(Copy of) Dev says:

@Sevenfeet
Ummm...actually, if you read what I wrote, you agree with me. Apple could certainly buy TiVO and incorporate/expand upon the tech once acquired, just as I said and just as they did in every one of your examples. That fits their modus operandi. Licensing TiVO software/hardware and have an independent company (TiVO) tech and branding co-exist with Apple's on the front label - no. That has rarely, if ever, been Apple's way.

Sevenfeet says:

@Dev
They could buy Tivo, but nobody in 10 years has done that. Historically, Tivo (IMHO) has been too expensive for what you get versus the investment (and this comes from a loyal Tivo customer of 11 years).
My point earlier about the whole "not-invented-here" thing is that Apple has a history of making strategic acquisitions of small companies with good technology that Apple improves and offers to a wider audience at a lower price. Apple is looking for ROI in multiples, which is usually why they go for small companies instead of purchasing large cash cows like Adobe. Tivo would rank as a small company and acquisition target were it not for it's historically high price per investment. They also have a base of hardware (going back 12 years) which would have to be supported.
Of course, if a company gets desperate enough, it'll cut a deal, but so far, that's not happened. And a lot of companies with deep pockets have so far passed that opportunity (Dish, DIrecTV, Comcast, TWC, etc). I agree that Apple almost never cobrands and I can't see them doing it, but it has happened....the HP iPod was probably the most recent attempt and the earliest I can think of were the Bell+Howell Apple ][ computers from the 1970s.

Dennis says:

+1 to all those who agree that Apple might buy TiVo.
TiVo introduced time-shifting, but that's no longer new, nor necessarily relevant to Apple TV. However, "TiVo features" also include a superb UI and remote control combo, and a recommendation algorithm, neither of which have been matched by existing cable boxes with DVRs.
Even the FCC now agrees that the cablecard standard did not work as intended. Apple can't single handedly fix cablecards. But TiVo's software features are definitely worth acquiring, and the fact that cable killed TiVo commercially means that it is ripe for being purchased by Apple.

Dickison says:

I have and love TiVo and see no advantage to switching to Apple TV as it stands now. But if Apple TV were to incorporate TiVo, I'd buy it in a flash.

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