In addition to this, consider that DirecTV themselves are putting more TiVos out in the public, even though they have announced this shiny new non-TiVo DVR. The R10 is TiVo-based, and I can go to DirecTV's website right now to pick up a $99 DVR. In addition, Circuit City, Best Buy and plenty others have TiVo-based units at rock-bottom prices. If DirecTV truly intended to "crush" TiVo with the introduction of this new unit, would these offers still be in place? Why would DirecTV have even rolled out the R10?
Remember that, as a generalization (and I hate all generalizations), the TiVo subscribers tend to be the more knowledgeable of the group. DirecTV is likely not going to risk alienating that group of members, because they're also the ones who sing DirecTV's praises, and who influence others' buying decisions. As Dan and the TiVo CEO have both pointed out, TiVo's contract with DirecTV runs until 2007. This opens up a wide variety of possibilities. Here's my hazy crystal ball ideas:
- Scenario 1: DirecTV chooses not to renew the TiVo contract, but is still on the hook for all those TiVo units that are currently deployed. TiVo approaches DISH Network (along with several cable companies), asks if they want to throw out their in-house development and have TiVo do it, as well as have a great marketing strategy for wooing DirecTV customers who are now paranoid that their TiVo boxes will quit working. "Sign up with us and keep the user interface you're used to!" Through some brilliant technical wizardry, TiVo also gives this new provider the ability to migrate the user's settings off the old box onto the new one (note settings, not necessarily recordings).
- Scenario 2: DirecTV renews the TiVo contract, and stops selling their in-house DVRs because demand was not so hot.
- Scenario 3: DirecTV renews the TiVo contract, and continues selling their in-house DVRs. Although demand for the in-house DVR was not so great, or was simply less than the TiVo demand, DirecTV chooses to phase out all non-DVR receivers to roll out better Video-on-Demand or other set-top box features. Viewers who want a VCR-without-a-cassette can get the free or cheap in-house boxes. Viewers wanting more "advanced" features, such as Season Pass, wishlist and folders can pay a bit more and get the TiVo box.