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What’s going to happen with TiVO? The pioneering Digital Video Recorder company is still in business with around a million subscribers and it has lately been settling patent infringement cases with big companies like Echostar and — just this week — with AT&T, but the longer term prospects for the company are dim. Yes, they’ll likely rake in hundreds of million more in settlements from companies including Verizon, but at the same time their subscriber base is dwindling and a point will come when their hardware will simply disappear as the company loses manufacturing economies of scale. That is unless they want to start shipping each new unit with a $100 bill attached — something public companies are generally loathe to do.
So I’m guessing a better end for TiVO would be to sell out, despite (or perhaps even because of) the recent court successes. They’ll find a buyer that covets the subscriber base, covets the IP portfolio, covets the revenue stream from recent and future settlements, and maybe sees buying TiVO as some masterstroke in a competitive industry.
There are only two logical buyers for TiVO in my view — Cisco and Motorola. As the two largest manufacturers of cable boxes either could use a kosher DVR implementation to its strategic advantage. I think Motorola is the more likely buyer because it is about to be flush with $12 billion GoogleBucks from the sale of its Motorola Mobility division and because Cisco has been pointedly concentrating lately on its enterprise businesses and might see buying TiVO as sending the wrong signal to Wall Street.
But none of this means a hill of beans to me. I’m not a TiVO subscriber, just an observer.