Anyone remember when Iomega’s Zip Drive was virtually the default means of portable data handling? Iomega got very confident about it and the Zip Drive had become virtually synonymous with moving data around, the way Google has for search. And then CD drives became more popular, portable hard drives became more available and finally and ultimately, flash drives became easily accessible whether as USB keychain drives or your own iPod.
But companies rarely learn by example. Not long ago Tivo had become synonymous with digitally recording TV shows to hard drives. So much so people would say “To Tivo”, the way they used to say “Zip it over to you” or “Google it” or “Xerox it”. Well now that is going into some major decline as Tivo had lost major market share in the face of HDTV. Part of the problem for Tivo is that Tivo customers were often early adoptees on the cusp of the newest technologies. The average American isn’t going HDTV nearly as much as those folks. But when your own device is itself an early adoptee fodder, then you need to be ten times as reactive and constantly watching your back.
Well Tivo didn’t. Tivo is only lucky that XBox 360 and the PS3 were too busy fighting over HD formats to include Tivo like capabilities. But Tivo might have dodged that nuclear missile but it’s still losing 20 million this quarter and at this point seems set to be bought out by whichever cable company feels the need to use Tivo as a brand. Tivo began as a valuable property, it’s quickly reaching the point where it becomes just a brand.