Monday, January 8, 2007


This afternoon, I stopped by my previous employer's (DIGEO)booth here at CES. They are announcing the introduction of two retail offerings later on in the year (the press release can be found here).

Up until now, Digeo has been concentrating on producing an interactive TV/DVR platform for the cable market. They have been working hand in hand with both Motorola and Scientific Atlanta, the two big hardware players in US cable boxes, and have a good number of deployments of their MOXI software out in the market.

There are significant upsides and downsides of tying your product to the cable market. The biggest drawback is the glacial speed at which Cable MSOs move. A cutting edge product when brought to the attention of cable companies becomes less and less innovative as they certify and test market it. Although you get into what is essentially a walled consumer base when in bed with the cable companies, you are heavily handcuffed by their deployment process and schedule. Note that this problem is also present in contracts with the satellite providers and the results can be seen through the contentious relationship between TiVo and DirecTV.

When TiVo introduced the series 3 HDTV box with cablecard, they made a significant move out in relation to cable tv. With the first widely available cablecard DVR running TiVo software, they showed that cutting edge technology can work hand in hand with a cable TV infrastructure.

Granted, the cablecard 1.0 spec is only one way, forcing end users who want to use the cable-provided PPV and VOD services to continue to use their cable company's box for those services, but it is a step in the right direction. If Digeo can sucessfully enter this market, they will show that there are enough customers that want cable company agnostic services. Hopefully this will push the MSOs to provide support for cablecard 2.0 so they can provide their VOD services on 3rd party hardware.

Unfortunately, this could also produce the oposite effect, making the Cable MSO's even more protective of their market. They could use the content providers' reluctance with digital distribution to their own ends and attempt to lock out the 3rd party hardware.

Although the booth is pretty small (by CES standards) they scored some high profile ad space with a hugh banner outside the central hall. Hopefully this will drive more people out to the Digeo booth (South Hall 26610).

If you do stop by, say Hi to Henry and Cara and Jon. I have only good memories of working with them back in the early 2000's (what a strange thing to say...).


Michael said...

Thanks for posting photos. (I couldn't get to the show this year. Working in smelly NY this week.)

Good analysis of the plusses and minuses of distributing a product through the major carriers.

A couple of years ago, when Steve Jobs was asked if Apple would ever do a mobile phone, he answered that he refused to distribute his product through the orifices of the major carriers.

(If the WSJ is correct about an Apple-Cingular phone announcement in the Macworld keynote this morning, something has changed.)

fellow former Digeo employee
Michael Markman

PS: Thanks for the link in the blog roll

PPS: So, what did you think of the Moxi prototypes?

PPPS: who are you?

rallypants said...

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Markman. I appreciate the eyes on this humble space.

I can't say much about the prototype boxes. I did not spend a lot of time in front of them. What I can say is:

The UI is the standard MOXI design. I would expect no different as that is the "brand identifier" for the product. In order to compete, it need to be available in HD, something that is not being shown here at the show.

The "prototype" cases are serviceable but plain. Retail will be asking for something with a bit more pizzaz. I happen to really like the external display on my TiVo S3 that shows what is currently recording. TiVo is setting the bar and, like it or not, Digeo will be battling them.

PPPS: My name is on my badge in an earlier post. Enjoy NYC.