In May of 2020, TiVo, a company that sold DVRs, forayed into the world of HDMI streaming dongle, challenging the likes of Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku. The company’s first product Android TV-based product, the TiVo Stream 4K, was priced aggressively at just $70. It combined the traditional live TV experience and the DVR functionality with support for various streaming services such as Netflix, HBO, YouTube, and Sling TV.
While the device was Okayish at best, one feature made it stand out from the rest of the competition. TiVo smartly organized all the content, and its recommendations were far more superior to those of Roku or Fire TV Stick.
Fast forward a few months, and Google just brought in a similar feature to the much loved Android TV. But there was this big difference between what TiVo and Google did. Google’s offering was way better.
TiVo was founded back in 1999 and is owned by Xperi Holdings. The CEO of the company, Jon Kirchner, told investors in an earnings call that they feel like they can no longer compete with Android TV. Google literally copied the only thing TiVo Stream 4K was good at and integrated it into Android and Google TV platforms. What’s more? Google sells their product for a mere $50, making Stream 4K obsolete.
According to Jon Kirchner,
Sure, so originally as we approached the combination, we have done a lot of planning around kind of a three phase approach, starting with the Stream 4K product, which is a dongle that attaches to TVs, moving into an embedded application, where we’ll be let’s say the preferred user interface choice on a broader platform but originally around the notion that it would live on top of Android TV.
And then thirdly, going all the way into a much deeper embedded solution, embedded OS where we’re a bigger provider, where we’re really the sole primary interface for the broader content search and discovery and engagement. What has changed is last fall, Google came out and said that they intend to go beyond their core OS level offering and really get into the UX business, and in so doing it eclipses one’s ability to I think reasonably be an alternative that might otherwise live on their lower level platform.
It seems like TiVo is trying to follow the footsteps of Roku and integrate their services directly into TVs. Their competition has already gained some traction, with Roku and Amazon Fire TV stick already in the game for some years now.
When the TiVo Stream 4K was launched, many users bashed the product for its confusing and cluttered user interface. The only thing that made it unique and useful was TiVo’s recommendation system. Originally launched at $50, TiVo slashed the Stream 4K price down to #49 after the launch of Google Chromecast.