Having dominated the US market for personal video recorders (PVRs) throughout the early 2000s, hopes were high for TiVo when it launched in Australia, backed by the Seven Network, back in 2008. But Tivo never got any significant traction, and almost five years down the track, the service appears to be close to death. You can’t even buy a new TiVo recorder anymore.
Editor of TechAU and friend of Lifehacker Jason Cartwright noted on Twitter today that the Australian Tivo site no longer lists Harvey Norman (or its subsidiary Joyce Mayne) as a retail partner. Harvey Norman was the initial launch partner for TiVo back in 2008, but at the peak of TiVo’s marketing activity JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Myer also stocked the product. It subsequently reverted to a Harvey Norman-only affair, but now even that option has evaporated. No TiVo products appear in a search of the Harvey Norman site, and an earlier investigation by Jason suggests stores don’t have any leftover stock either.
Nor can you buy a new TiVo box from TiVo itself. The online store only lists accessories: the TiVo remote and the Desktop Plus software for downloading content from an existing TiVo box.
TiVo also appears to have lost traction in other ways. It has stopped listing ISPs who have partnered with it to offer unmetered downloads for its CASPA download service, a list which used to include Internode, iiNet, Primus and Adam, as well as a handful of smaller players.
With the digital TV rollout due to be complete by the end of 2013, setting up a PVR these days doesn’t require much more effort than plugging a USB stick into a TV set. TiVo definitely has a superior interface, but that hasn’t been enough to inspire people to buy the hardware, even though (unlike the original US model) there’s no ongoing subscription fees. TiVo isn’t actually officially dead in Australia yet. But the signs don’t look good.