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January 11, 2004

Cory on TiVo’s Latest Foray into DRM [12:19 pm]

TiVo’s new PC-viewing deliberately broken

The TiVo execs I’ve spoken with about this have expressed TiVo’s philosophy as “reasonable compromise” — delivering features that customers want, so long as it doesn’t make the Hollywood companies too unhappy. This is usually presented as a business-person’s realpolitik: look, kid, we know your ideals say that crippling the stuff we sell you is bad, but we’ve got a company to run here.

What’s funny about this is that it’s the exact opposite of the traditional way of running a disruptive technology business: no one crippled the piano roll to make sure it didn’t upset the music publishers, Marconi didn’t cripple the radio to appease the Vaudeville players — hell, railroad barons never slowed their steam-engines down to speeds guaranteed to please the teamsters.

Where does this bizarre idea — that the dinosaur industry that’s being displaced gets to dictate terms to the mammals who are succeeding it — come from?

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