A recent study has predicted that DVRs are finally going to become commonplace by the year 2010, and the big winners will be the that make the boxes for the cable and satellite providers. TiVo may just have to be satisfied with staying the verb, and my beloved Replay will no doubt fall off of the map for good.
The tipping point seems to be the widespread offering of DVRs by cable and satellite companies as souped-up cable boxes as opposed to being replacements for VHS machines. The VHS machine served a dual purpose — recording TV and playing movies, and people seemingly didn’t want to have to shell out for two machines to replace their analog tape machine.
The cable and satellite companies have been using the free razor/expensive blades strategy for the devices — charging little or nothing for the box and installation making it up on the back end with increased monthly fees. The strategy is, of course, that people will be so amazed with the awesome power of the DVR they’ve been granted by their provider that they won’t switch over from cable to satellite (or vice versa).
For example, in my household — where we have been happy Replay users for six years — the killer app that made us break down and try the Charter-provided DVR was the fact that it could record two HDTV shows at one time. Since nearly all of our favorite shows (except for Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica) were now offered on HD channels by Charter, we couldn’t resist. However, the box — by Scientific Atlanta — is so feature-poor in all other aspects (a full review is coming this weekend) that there was talk for awhile of switching to Direct TV, which offers the HD recording from TiVo that TiVo won’t offer on its standalone boxes.