Cisco buy TiVo? Dream on, TiVo fans

by Mathew on January 31, 2006 · 1 comment

CNet.com has a piece up on its website that talks about how networking equipment giant Cisco Systems might be looking to acquire TiVo, the digital-video recording pioneer. The article, which is labelled “news analysis” — which in the journalism business is code for “speculation” — starts off with Cisco’s recently announced $6.9-billion acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, one of the largest makers of set-top boxes in the world next to Motorola, and then asks the question “Who’s next?”

One response might be “Why should anyone be next?” The purchase of SA is one of the largest acquisitions Cisco has ever done. The idea that it’s going to rush out and buy something else right away is more than a little wacky. But a better response might be “Why TiVo?” As much as everyone seems to want to see TiVo get snapped up by either Yahoo, Google or Microsoft, I’m not sure that’s as likely as TiVo fans might want it to be — and I think a purchase by Cisco is probably even less likely (The Stalwart isn’t convinced either).

Why? Because — as Rafat Ali also points out at PaidContent.org — TiVo doesn’t really bring anything to the table that Cisco doesn’t already have with Scientific-Atlanta. Yes, it’s true that TiVo (and Replay TV) pioneered the DVR business, and the company has a small legion of devoted fans who love the extra features it provides. But when it gets right down to it, DVRs are a commodity, SA already makes them — including ones that do high-definition, and have interactive features for integration with the Internet (or the ability to add them) — and so there is little or no reason to pay the $500-million or whatever it would take to buy TiVo. For what it’s worth, I think the idea of Cisco buying Nintendo makes even less sense, but maybe that’s just me.

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