DirecTV continues to struggle with generic DVR
By Davis Freeberg
It looks like DirecTV is still having some difficulties integrating their DVR into their satellite service. It’s a little surprising to see that they are having this much trouble given that this isn’t even their HDTV box. According to Gartner analyst Van Baker, the satellite company has been plagued with usuability problems and they’ve already been forced to issue two software updates to their service.
What I found so amazing about this article is that DirecTV is in complete denial about their problems. According to the article there have been “dozens of consumer complaints to the company and on Internet sites about sluggish and occasionally idiosyncratic performance.” These complaints range from the back button not always working properly to the time warp feature not being included in the product. According to DirecTV Chief Technology Officer Romulo Pontual, “Some people want it to stop where they press and not try to read their minds, It’s a choice”
If it’s really a “choice” then why not let consumers decide if they want the feature or not. I think that it’s really a choice by DirecTV not to pay royalties to TiVo for the time warp patent. Rather then being honest about why the feature is not included in their DVR, they are instead trying to spin this like they are doing a service to their DVR users.
In the article, they also talk about DirecTV not always recording programs. While DirecTV denied that they’ve seen that problem, one quick way to lose subscribers is to not record programs. If this is in fact an issue with the R15 DirecTV Plus DVR, then they need to resolve this very quickly.
My favorite quote by Pontual had to be “If you’re new to DVRs, you’ll love this product” Does this mean that Pontual believes that if you’ve used TiVo or Media Center in the past, that you won’t enjoy the product? All in all, I think USA Today could have asked some much tougher questions for Pontual. Instead of producing a fluff piece and allowing Pontual to slide by, I would have drilled him on questions about their false advertising settlement, the constant delays to introducing their new product and the reported bad blood between Rupert Murdoch and TiVo. Given that they are only paying TiVo $1 per month per subscriber, I continue to question the wisdom of producing an inferior box for their subscribers.