Could Apple buy TiVo? Musings on the Video iPod
Saturday, May 10, 2003
The recent launch of Apple's Music Store is clear evidence of their continuing focus on media acquisition and management. The iApps (iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD) and iPod all focus on integrating media into Apple owners' daily lifestyle. Could Apple do for TV portability what it's done for music portability?

Business 2.0 thinks maybe. I feel the same way.

Apple and TiVo have been working together heavily on streaming media over the last six months, TiVo's Home Media Option is the first 'entertainment appliance' to take advantage of Rendezvous, Apple's implementation of a simplified network discovery and sharing protocol. TiVo 'gets it' as far as Apple technology goes. To use media sharing of music and photos from a Windows box to a TiVo requires a 16 megabyte application specifically for organizing music into playlists and photos into albums that can be shared over the network to the TiVo. The Mac download is a 288k control panel that just creates a bridge from the TiVo to the user's iTunes and iPhoto library, whether iTunes or iPhoto are running or not.

The Apple/TiVo relationship has brought Apple content onto the TiVo, and an Apple acquisition of TiVo could push data the other way as well. A couple weeks ago Apple unveiled new iPods in 10, 15, and 30 gigabytes. 30 gigabytes is enough storage for 20 days of uninterrupted, unrepeated music. Perhaps a bit excessive. On the other hand, 30 gigs is enough to store 120 hours of high-quality video compressed for an iPod-sized screen (320x240) using a realtime compressing codec (it could be smaller in MPEG-4, but it wouldn't be able to compress video on-the-fly). An iPod with an on-board MPEG2 decoder could synch small-screen versions of TiVo shows on to your iPod for watching anywhere. Perhaps full-screen files could also be saved for display on a regular TV via an S-Video port (after all, the line-out sound port is already there).

Would it make sense for TiVo to be bought by Apple? It probably makes more sense than the Apple/Universal Music rumors, since technology is what Apple's all about, not the creation of content or the managing of artists, and TiVo follows that line completely. Personally, I don't know whether the buyout would happen, and what that could mean for TiVo's existing partners, Sony, Phillips, and Toshiba, but the current ties between the companies give me hope for a Video iPod.

It makes a certain sense: Video is the next logical step in the iPod's evolution, and nobody has nailed the scheduling, acquisition, and presentation of video broadcasts like TiVo has. A strategic partnership here could really go a long way.

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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
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