TiVo was a great product that failed due to poor marketing

Product managers often think product-market fit is all that matters. That’s not quite accurate.
TiVo is still around, but far less successful than they could have/should have been.

TiVo had a fantastic, innovative product, plenty of funding, and a huge first-mover advantage. As one of the first companies to record digitized video on a hard disk, TiVo upped their own game by predicting what programs a user would be interested in recording, and added tons of other cool functionality as well. By all logic TiVo should be the undisputed king of the digital recording market.

However, by 2011 it was clear that any stranglehold TiVo had on a market they essentially created was gone. The giant cable companies may have come to the party late, but they busted the door wide open when they arrived. By bundling in DVR service as part of cable subscription packages, behemoths such as Comcast and Verizon essentially reduced TiVo to an “also ran” in the quickly growing market.

As of January 2012 TiVo had only ~2.3 million subscribers in the US. This is down from 4.36 million six years earlier. There is a fantastic TED talk that touches upon the reasons why this happened, and lays the blame on TiVo’s entire market approach. I don’t agree with all of it, but he makes some interesting points, and it is certainly worth a watch.

Published by Stefan von Imhof

Leading Product at Flippa. Buying & selling micro-businesses on the side. My personal brand is all over the map.

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