A year ago the TiVo Stream 4K dongle launched for $50 (it's now selling for $40), applying the company's software to provide a front end to streaming services while running on Android. The idea is that with their knowledge of content and easy access, it could pull out the items viewers really want from the various silos, and make cord cutting more accessible.
In late 2019 then-CEO Dave Shull said they were betting the future of the company on this plan, but just a few months after the Stream 4K launched a problem popped up: Google released its new Chromecast with a "Google TV" interface that offers features like recommendations and individual profiles that are very similar to what TiVo is trying to offer.
So what's next?ZatzNotFunny points out an earnings call this week from TiVo owner Xperi that highlighted the problem and their updated direction as a result. The transcripts on Seeking Alpha show what Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner said in response to a question, explaining a slide showing the steps it plans for the TiVo Stream platform.
Simply, there doesn't appear to be a future for the Android-based TiVo Stream 4K device beyond next year, and in 2023 - 2024, Xperi will offer TiVo Stream as a smart TV OS, similar to what we've seen from Android, Roku, Fire TV and even LG's webOS. In its last call Xperi had pitched the shift as a three-step process, but now it has just two steps.
According to Kirchner, "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."
"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."
Apparently the TiVo perspective is that its Stream interface is easier for customers to use, which will cause them to spend more on the various video options and encourage TV makers to put the operating system in their devices. However, based on the current plan, it may be a couple of years before we find out how many manufacturers go that route.
Update (5/10 9:20 PM): TiVo owner Xperi sent over a statement, clarifying that it's continuing to develop the TiVo Stream 4K, while planning for a TiVo Stream OS platform that works across many devices. Nothing in the statement indicates TiVo plans to release another Android powered device in the future.
We are continuing our development of the TiVo Stream 4K Device, which is a pillar in our multi-part and phased strategy to expand into SmartTV OS. The TiVo Stream 4K allows us to introduce new features and functionality with maximum control, speed, and flexibility.
Jon’s comments were meant to give our investor community insight into this multi-part and phased strategy, including an accelerated development of our TiVo Stream OS Platform in lieu of developing TiVo Stream Apps on other SmartTV OS platforms. The TiVo Stream OS Platform is an independent alternative in the Streaming Media market that equitably partners with all Streaming Services, Streaming Media Players, and SmartTVs, and Connected Cars to best serve Consumers as they Find, Watch, and Enjoy television.