TiVo Australia denies speculation its dying, learns lesson about social

The past couple of days has seen stories flying around the internet about TiVo Australia’s future. Many suggesting a massive downscaling in staff (only 6 remain), and the downgrading...

The past couple of days has seen stories flying around the internet about TiVo Australia’s future. Many suggesting a massive downscaling in staff (only 6 remain), and the downgrading of support to email-only as the end for the well known DVR. While TiVo in the states is firing on all cylinders with the TiVo Premiere model and newly released iPad app, the same can’t be said about TiVo Australia.

TiVo Australia has learnt a very valuable lesson, in this world of two-way direct communication with your users, you cannot afford to be silent. Until today, there had been no posts on the companies twitter account – @TiVOAustralia since the 12th of November last year. Almost 3 months with no communication with a relatively small, but very loyal community is a dangerous recipie. From comments on TiVo Australia’s Facebook page, the same frustration is clear.

TiVo Australia deny the reports, re-engaging social media to get the message out.

Wether you believe them or not, hopefully the lesson is learnt.

Operated by Hybrid Television Services (ANZ), the biggest update we’ve seen to the platform since launching in 2008 is a bump in storage from 160GB to 320GB. Understandably customers have been craving updates and iterations.

One of the main problems is that very little product development actually occurs locally, TiVo is actually designed in the US, and Hybrid simply licence it. As for the software, there’s been only very slight customisation to add local movie and tv show content – CASPA. We also seen Blockbuster video store dropped and a lame attempt to add podcasts, which was later abandonned.

Regardless of what corporate struggles or restructures the company is going through, communication is key. Be honest with customers as they have hundreds of dollars on the line. In Australia TiVo owners get their TV guide OTA, meaning without TiVO on the back-end pushing guide updates, the device would effectively be useless. Other DVR’s use 3rd party EPG’s like Ice TV, for a fee.

Naturally the prospect of having their TiVo’s turned into expensive paper weight makes consumers extremely nervous. This is a device that for a long time sold for $700. Reports are that TiVo Australia has experienced less than stunning, with less than 100,000 sales.

So why is TiVo Australia failing where the US version is thriving ? Price is definitely an issue, while many electronics manufacturers capitalise on early adopters enthusiasm with a high starting price, it usually drops quickly. Even in my initial review I suggested $699 RRP was too expensive for most consumers. Apparently I was right. The price eventually dropped and is now $499 RRP. Three years on, the hardware inside the TiVo would have substantially decreased in price, therefore significantly reducing the cost to manufacture. The reality is, TiVo Australia should have been much more agressive with pricing, with a sub-$200 being much more likely to get mass-adoption.

I also think there was a massive missed opportunity to bundle TiVo with the purchase of a new HDTV. Many consumers upgrade from an old CRT television connected to a VCR, so naturally if your going to upgrade to wathcing HD, you’d also want to record that quality.

As a TiVo owner, I love the product, but hate the way the product is being managed in Australia. If TiVo Australia is to be believed that things are ok there, they’d be smart to continue today’s communication, providing facts, rather than letting people make up their own.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.