Apple + TiVo = Mac Media Capsule?

“When Apple’s Steve Jobs announced his iTV strategy last fall, for many of us it sounded pretty weak. You have to pay $300 to buy a device that then downloads movies that you still have to pay for and then to top it all off you only get ‘near DVD quality?’ While I understand why the Apple fans would like the product, it’s hard for me to imagine it having a more widespread appeal without DVR functionality or a Nintendo attached,” Davis Freeberg writes for Seeking Alpha.

MacDailyNews Note: Freeberg makes too great a leap: nobody knows the full capabilities of Apple’s ‘iTV’ and to confer capabilities onto ‘iTV’ based a sneak peek or on iTunes current video offerings – which can change at any time, and have changed in the past – is foolishness.

Undeterred, Freeberg continues, “At the time, there were a lot of questions raised about why Apple still hasn’t launched their own PVR product and a lot of debate over whether or not the iTV would end up being a DVR after all, but in typically Jobs style he gave out enough information to get everybody all lathered up, but not enough to give out any real details. Over the years, I’ve never understood why Apple hasn’t introduced their own PVR. It seems like it would be a natural compliment to their business and would fit in nicely with their media strategy.”

Freeberg writes, “As it turns out though, PRVBlog is reporting a pretty wild rumor that Apple is in fact planning on launching a PVR at Macworld and the kicker will be that they have licenced TiVo’s techology into their new iTV box. Interestingly enough, his tipster also says that they will be changing the name of the product to the Mac Media Capsule, which sounds a little screwy to me, but then again I never really cared for the name Wii, so I’m probably the wrong one to ask when it comes to branding.”

Full article here.

PVRblog reports, “I’m going to disclaim this upfront as a wild rumor that just landed in my inbox… Again, this is a crazy rumor with nothing to back it up and I’d be really surprised if any Apple device recorded TV, much less running the TiVo OS on it, but damn, if this is true, I would love to own such a device. I do have to say the entire iTV concept as previously described is a little thin. People won’t pay a couple hundred bucks just to have a device that plays iTunes Store purchases on their TV — it has to do other stuff, but will it be TiVo recording TV for you?”

Full article here.
Sounds pretty specious to us.

In related news, Ars Technica is reporting today that the TiVoToGo DRM has been cracked and the resulting utility, “TiVo File Decoder,” also runs on Mac OS X.

Related articles:
Analyst: Apple to release ‘AppleVision’ set-top box ‘TiVo killer’ – June 30, 2006
TiVo updates TiVoDesktop for Mac – February 15, 2006
Intel’s Yonah demo shows TiVo-like features buoying rumors of Apple Mac mini digital hub with DVR – December 14, 2005


  1. “People won’t pay a couple hundred bucks just to have a device that plays iTunes Store purchases on their TV”

    Wanna bet? Im chomping at the bit jsut for this very feature. If they want to add more functionality to it all the better.

  2. MDN,

    Don’t be so defensive. I think the author is being pretty clear that he basing his ideas on what he has heard so far. He not saying that it couldn’t change and in fact, he’s suggesting it might.

  3. PVR is dated technology. I want to pay a monthly subscription service to Apple to stream content on demand to my tv. I don’t want to wait for scheduled broadcast to record and play back. I just want it directly from the source when I’m ready. If there is a certain category of programming that I like, I want to have it shuffle and play programs at random and I’ll create my own broadcast of my favorite programming. No more cable or satellite.

  4. Tivo has already shown that a standalone PVR is not a viable business. They’re only going to stay in business by being the “guts” of PVRs that people rent from their cable/satellite companies. Unless Apple has some kind of magic way of bypassing that issue, I don’t see them entering the PVR business.

    To illustrate, has anybody ever tried hooking up a separate Tivo box with a cable box? The experience completely blows. There’s no real incentive for cable box companies to expose an API that would allow a third-party box to adequately control it, and so what you get is this terribly kludgy solution that doesn’t always work.

    Unless Apple can simply make all network/cable shows available directly through iTunes for a monthly fee, and thereby totally bypass standard broadcast TV (which would be pretty cool, mind you), it’s not going to happen.

  5. I’ve posted on MDN before that Apple and TiVo DID have a strategic partnership at one time, but was suddenly cancelled. I would love to hear the details myself. All I know is that TiVo units were in place at all the Apple Retail Stores, but were recalled to Apple’s warehouses before they could be placed out on the shelves.

  6. “People won’t pay a couple hundred bucks just to have a device that plays iTunes Store purchases on their TV”

    Right. Just like they wouldn’t pay a couple of hundred bucks just to have a device that plays iTunes Store purchases in their pocket?

  7. The DVR solution already exists – its called eyeTV. Buy a tvtv licence (£15 per year) and search for any favourite program using the Mac-based program guide or the web. Click the red button and that’s it.

    It wakes up my sleeping iMac to record DVD or HD-resolution TV, it runs in the background then sleeps again. I’ve even recorded BBC radio programs. I like the fact that it records the name and a synopsis in the recording, plus 2 minutes either side and all this data transfers to iTunes. One bug: the radio transfers to mpeg4 video which sounds OK on the Mac, but won’t transfer to the iPod. The work around it to highlight it and convert it to AAC.

    Compressing TV movies to the iPod (640×480) reduces the multi-GB movie to a few hundred MB, plus removing ads is really easy with the edit tool (thanks to ScreenCastsOnline tutorial for showing me this!).

    Next time I think I’ll get an EyeTV Diversity so I can watch/record two shows at once, or get picture-in-picture. Miss this when I have a clash of recordings on two different channels. Plus the reception from 2 aerials is apparently very good.

    What would be nice is if the eyeTV was recognised when plugged into the iTV USB-port, for a complete solution. Maybe it’ll be TiVo-integration for the USA and eyeTV-integration for the rest of the world. We’ll find out in January.

    Magic word ‘ran’ as in “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree”

  8. Apple sells too many TV shows to launch a TiVo service, and it is very un-Apple like to simply run TiVo’s OS. Apple would want the iTV to give users an iPod/OS X user experience, something to build off of the iPod halo effect to sell more Macs. Also, why would people buy Apple’s $300 hardware if all it did was what TiVo does now?

    No, Apple has something else up its sleeve for iTV – something that will be to movies what the iPod was to music. Otherwise there’s no reason to build it.

  9. Cool. Just listened to the ‘The Goon Show’ and ‘The Magicians Nephew’ from my iPod recorded automatically from the eyeTV at 6 am this morning.

    OK, I am showing my age, but it is like I can now Podcast any radio show or DJ live at any time of day or night, not just the stuff they happen to pre-prepare, edit and release a few days later.

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