If you use mobile devices these days you know that it's not just enough for a mobile OS to have software available. They have to have an easy to access, easy to search app store that allows users to find new and interesting apps and games to fill their mobile devices with.
In that vain, TiVo has recently announced that they're opening up their platform for developers and we may soon be seeing some third party apps become available. Details are sparse at this point but one can hope that this is the start of something exciting when it comes to TiVo.
Great but Slow
One of the biggest complaints users have about TiVo is the speed at which the company updates and adds content. While you can access many popular streaming services with modern TiVo devices such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon VoD and Pandora, that's about where the streaming party ends. If you're looking for something a little more obscure such as Al Jazeera or even sports programming like soccer, you're going to have to have a Roku or similar device sitting on top of your DVR.
Having a way for developers to add content to their platform is a great way for TiVo to expand its offering without spending a ton of additional money. If other people develop the apps and make them available to users, TiVo has only invested in the SDK.
And what sort of apps could we expect for a TiVo DVR? That's hard to say other than the general "content provider" apps but there's a ton of opportunity just in that space. I can't see games or productivity apps making their way to any sort of "TiVo Marketplace" but greater access to music, video and even photo sites wouldn't be a bad thing. (If only I could get Spotify on all of my various devices.)
HBOGo, MaxGo, Showtime OnDemand, TV.com content. These could all be opened up with an easy to use SDK and the ability of customers to be able to easily add apps to their TiVo DVRs. Engadget has reported that TiVo has placed some pretty tight restrictions on developers but there's no word on how these restrictions might effect the apps they could develop.
The other part of the equation is whether or not TiVo devices provided by cable companies would have access to the same apps as retail TiVo buyers. If MSOs decide to restrict peoples' use of apps (should any good ones appear) that could stop people from using these particular TiVos. In that case, one has to hope that TiVo wouldn't alienate these customers since breaking into the MSOs and writing distribution deals is important to their bottom line.
No matter what, this certainly can't hurt TiVo when it comes to attracting new customers. The DVR pioneer has been doing well lately and not just because it's won some court cases. Subscriber count is up over the last few years and though it's taken TiVo a long time, it looks as though the company may soon become solvent. While buyout rumors are always flying regarding TiVo, if they continue to develop their technology and become profitable, there's nothing to say we won't see a major player snatch them up at some point.