What we suspected for some time is real: TiVo sales in New Zealand are disappointing. The New Zealand Herald reports industry sources saying only 2,000 TiVo units were sold in New Zealand since launch, about five months ago. Hybrid TV, the local distributor, of course says this figure is not accurate but won't disclose the real numbers. At launch Hybrid TV planned to sell 120,000 TiVo within five years in New Zealand.
Compare this to Sky TV, which added about 6,700 new subscribers per month for the six months to December 2009. That includes having to pay a subscribption for the services, which are free with TiVo.
Now let's see the problems:
TiVo is only available through Telecom New Zealand stores. People don't buy TV sets or content boxes at Telecom stores - there needs to be a shift of tectonic proportions for this to happen. People go there to buy phones. Until Hybrid TV sells TiVo through HB Hi-Fi, Dick Smith, Noel Leemings, Harvey Normam there will be no chance for them.
Then TiVo offers Caspa, a legal movie download service. The service gives users unmetered download of purchased content. At 1.2GB for a two hour movie the unmetered download is a great idea. But it is only available if you use Telecom New Zealand as your ISP. Hybrid TV should offer Caspa to anyone and everyone. It will use 1.2GB of one's Internet connection to download a movie. Live with it. I do this all the time with Apple iTunes. If they can offer unmetered through Telecom New Zealand, fine. But don't limit consumers to that only ISP.
Next is the lack of Prime and Maori TV EPG. I don't blame Hybrid TV too much on that, it might be the people on the other side playing dead. I mean if I don't see Prime on my EPG I don't watch Prime. As easy as that.
Then comes support. From what read on Geekzone people have very bad experience with their support being inexperienced or not having answers. I can't attest to that, since I never had to use their support.
Lastly their desktop application. What an absolute piece of software (PoS). I have a TiVo review unit here, and I couldn't get any of my own content from my desktop or Windows Home Server into TiVo - either too slow to copy or not copied at all to the box. Worst user experience ever.
The TiVo experience on the TV is quite nice and I am sure users would quickly get used to that. But the whole package is broken and until Hybrid TV fixes these things TiVo won't be a third option between Sky and myFreeview|HD.
UPDATE Another thing that's wrong with TiVo in New Zealand: just read the comments below and you will see someone who doesn't know if TiVo is HD or not, and if it's DVB-T (Terrestrial) or DVB-S (Satellite). A lot of people probably thinks TiVo is a service on its own right, without realising it requires Freeview|HD coverage.
UPDATE July 2010: The Caspa On Demand service is no longer exclusive to Telecom New Zealand subscribers and can now be accessed by all users. Telecom New Zealand remains the only unmetered ISP partner though.
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