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Tivo's new owner ponders binning its own boxes

Rovi floats deals with third-party box-slingers to get out of nasty hardware business

Tivo's new owner Rovi has hinted that it might get out of box retailing and focus on software and services.

The source of the news is an SEC filing that records a presentation Rovi made to analyst firm Cowen and Company's Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

The document details Rovi chief financial officer Peter Halt's belief that the US market was the engine-room of the acquisition, since that's the market where Rovi and Tivo found themselves in head-to-head competition most often: they were both trying to pitch themselves to carriers. Tivo was well ahead in Europe, he explained, while Rovi was ahead in Latin America.

Later in the presentation, Halt drops his hint about retailing hardware.

“What the consumer channel gives them is a direct contact with the consumer and a very passionate loyal audience that gives them direct feedback”, he says, and while that's been a source of innovation for Tivo, “being in the hardware business isn’t something that necessarily excites us.”

Instead, Halt reckons deals with box-builders could be on the cards. “There are several box providers out there who have direct-to-retail. We’ll be looking at the possibilities of working with them, having them control the box.

“And while that would be a partnership and we wouldn’t get all the sales as a result, we think that’s probably a better way to approach the consumer space.”

Such a deal would maintain a presence in the consumer market, without the company having to continue designing and building its own hardware.

That would leave Rovi focussing on its search capability and Tivo's recommendation engine. ®

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