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Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay 50

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-ever-even-heard-of-this? dept.
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton created a revolution with TiVo, a device that challenged the notion that we had to watch TV shows when they aired. And they hoped to do it again with Qplay, a device that challenged the notion that short-form videos had to be consumed one at a time, like snacks instead of meals. Qplay streamed curated queues of short-form Internet video to your TV using a small, simple box controlled by an iPad app. So what went wrong? Unlike TiVo, the Qplay box was difficult to justify owning, and thevalue of the service itself is questionable. And as of last week, Qplay is closed."
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Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay

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  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:31PM (#47577947)

    I love my Tivo, but - I also owned a VCR for the twenty years prior to my first Tivo. Time shifting has been around for 40+ years now.

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:37PM (#47577985) Homepage Journal

      I think he meant:
      "...a device that challenged the notion that we had to watch commercials when they aired. " :)

      • by fermion (181285)
        You know, my tivo adds additional commercial content to my viewing experience, content that cannot be turned off or skipped. I like my tivo, but have come to realize that maybe the company is not so efficient given that it needs to engage in promoting content in addition to a monthly fee.
      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Umm, I used VCRs for a long time before Tivo, to fast forward through commercials.

        (I am a huge Tivo fan, btw... but strongly consider it evolutionary rather than revolutionary.)

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by erice (13380) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @07:02PM (#47578137) Homepage

      I love my Tivo, but - I also owned a VCR for the twenty years prior to my first Tivo. Time shifting has been around for 40+ years now.

      True, but limited device intelligence and limited tape capacity made time shifting an exception rather than the rule. Most VCR owners, even those who used the time shifting feature, still watched most of their TV programs at the time that they aired.

      With Tivo and other DVRs time-shifting becomes the norm and real-time an exception generally to be avoided.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      But Tivo was convenient time shifting. There are still no DVRs that match the ease of use of Tivo.

      • No argument there. I was simply pointing out that it was possible. I used to regularly schedule recordings on my VCR, back in the old days... but yeah, it was a royal pain compared to Tivo.

        On a side note - I recently was handed a project to "digitize" a VHS video one of our faculty uncovered. As I was doing the whole FF + RW thing (to retension the tape), the tape broke. Fortunately it broke near one of the non-tape sections that attach to the spools, so nothing significant was lost... but taking that thing

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Actually I had convenient recording to VCR from my DirecTV receiver, before I got the Tivo version. Ie, you would scan the programs on screen and select which ones you wanted to record. Then you placed a very small IR transmitter in a location where your VCR would see it (the VCR was right next to the satellite receiver so that was easy). Then when you're program was about to come on it would turn on the VCR and start recording. The only thing I needed to do was make sure I rotated the tapes so that the

  • It's hard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:37PM (#47577989) Journal

    It's hard to buy something when you don't know it exists.

    Perhaps they should have tried advertising.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly, but that's always been TiVo's failure.

      I find it funny when you come to techie forums where people rave about TiVo. In business circles TiVo was a gigantic flop. Yeah, they had an interesting product providing an unmet need. They designed the product to look like a black box when most consumers were already box-overloaded with VCRs, DVDs, stereo systems, etc., they priced the product way too high ($200 for a box PLUS a monthly subscription; I'll just set my $60 VCR to record my show thanks), and

  • any device that can be replaced by a free app will fail.

    • Any device that relies on a particular service functioning in a particular way will also fail.

  • I've got a couple of little boxes under my TVs that: can be controlled by my phone or a tablet (and not only Apple-produced ones), can stream video (and not only from 1 specific company). Maybe there's some niche they could've marketed to, but it doesn't come to mind.
    • by sumdumass (711423)

      This thing sort of sounds like a medis pc or s chrome cast with a monthly fee and a spiffy UI. Am i missing something?

  • I used to have a TiVo, and I loved it. Then for various reasons I had to cancel my subscription. TiVo took it upon themselves to double charge me the cancellation fee. When they refunded my money, they withheld around $10 or so and claimed it was for taxes or something.

    I didn't really care about the $10, it was about the principle of the matter. If you make a mistake and double charge me, you should give me back exactly what you took by accident, including any measly taxes. Instead the person I spoke to
    • TiVo was awesome, but $120/yr for a metadata stream seemed like a poor value. So we dropped it.

  • Tivo customer since 2001. I've never heard of QPASS. In all honesty, I can't stand the tivo UI anymore. A year ago I turned off the stupid tivo "blip" sound effects, it made a huge fcking deal. As of this week, my tivo UI was updated (finally) with a more modern UI. I have yet to see it flip back to the 10 year old Standard-Definition interface that they used forever. If there was a serious contender that didn't involve using Comcast's box or building my own, I'd do it... but then again, when the fck is eve
    • by Stuntmonkey (557875) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:10PM (#47578741)

      Tivo is a story of one missed opportunity after another. Great engineering that failed to iterate. They could have easily led the industry in streaming (from the net a la Netflix, or from home servers). They could have easily worked out interactive ad formats to layer on top of recorded shows. They could have easily gone the premium pay-per-view route (like iTunes/Apple TV/Amazon). It almost makes me angry to see so much wasted potential.


  • Dude that founded Victoria's Secrets sold it because he KNEW he could start another lingerie mail order company that would blow away VS....

    I believe he jumped from the Golden Gate bridge when he went bankrupt...

    At least these guys are still alive? Yes?
  • by Georules (655379)
    what the hell was qplay?
  • This failure is quite simple: The Tivo solved a problem This QPlay did not.
  • Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton created a revolution with TiVo, a device that challenged the notion that we had to watch TV shows when they aired.

    Wow, how old are you*? Do you even know what a VCR [wikipedia.org] is?

    *and by "you," I obviously don't mean Velcroman1, the story's submitter, because he didn't actually write any of it.

  • They took a simple idea, patented it and sued and forced all other hard disk based recorders down. Their main innovation was the revenue model of sucking 10 or 15 $ a month from the early adopters. That gave them the financial muscle to sue everyone and shut everyone down. They are basically Microsoft of hard disk based recording. I own a couple of hard disk based standard def recorders, both more than six years old.

    When the DVD recorder broke, I searched and found that this is the only piece of electroni

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