A column in the print version of the May issue of Business 2.0 has an interesting suggestion for Apple. John Batelle, the director of the business reporting program at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, thinks that Apple should set its sights on TiVo. According to Mr. Batelle, not only is the TiVo Mac-like to begin with, it will take someone like Steve Jobs to navigate the troubled waters between the consumer, the entertainment industry, and technology. Though it was written before Apple announced the iTunes Music Store, the reasoning employed in the article is very similar to what Apple has actually done with the iMS. From the article:
Everyone who has TiVo loves TiVo; it is to television what Macintosh was to computing-a revelation. Which is exactly why Apple should buy TiVo and once again redefine the intersection of culture and technology. Folks love TiVo for the same reason they loved the Mac in 1984 and the iPod in 2001: It gives control back to the end user. TiVo viewers call the shots regarding when, how, and -- soon -- even where they watch. Once content or access is purchased, the end user is in charge, just like with the iPod. But unlike the iPod, TiVo and systems like it are in serious trouble. The culprit is the entertainment industry. TiVo has an abeyant Napster-like quality-and the content business is scared silly that it will not only destroy advertising revenues but become the platform for video swapping on the Internet. Case in point: A coalition of entertainment companies recently sued TiVo competitor Sonicblue into bankruptcy.
So itis time for Apple to step in. Steve Jobs is the only man in techland who can stand up to the content companies on his own terms. Not only does he understand the entertainment industry ñ his other company, Pixar, is a Hollywood hit machine ñ but he also deeply understands the consumer. Appleis "Rip. Mix. Burn." approach has captured the essence of how consumers feel about music: Itis theirs.
Beyond that, Jobs used the iPod to help curb music piracy: The device is wedded to one computer at a time, making tune theft more trouble than itis worth.
Jobs could do the same with TiVo. With a depressed market cap and nearly 625,000 customers, TiVo is a steal. Jobs would have to unwind some messy licensing agreements, but heis done that before. His next step would be to apply Appleis design elegance and create an "iTV" device that integrates with Mac OS X, the Internet, and your cable or satellite box. Talk about a revolution. Once Apple turned on the marketing and PR offensive, weid have one hell of a Hollywood drama unfolding. And with Jobs in the lead role, itid be awfully fun to watch.
There is more in the full article, which can be found in the print version of the May issue of Business 2.0.
Brad Gibson assisted with this article.