TiVo’s holiday sales might let down investors

Yahoo! News – TiVo\’s holiday sales might let down investors: USA Today is out with an article today that suggests that TiVo units may have sold poorly during the recent holiday season.

Typically the holiday season is seen as a prime window of opportunity for many consumer electronic companies to sell product. Although TiVo most likely will not be disclosing units sold until they report earnings numbers in March some are suggesting that the numbers won’t look good.

“The campaign they launched didn’t have the impact they’d hoped for,” says Hudson Square Research’s Daniel Ernst. “They had a good year, but not a blowout year – a tipping point like iPod had. They need to fix that.”

This type of report out from a paper with as large a circulation as USA Today is another in a series of recent bad turns for the company over the course of the past few weeks. TiVo’s stock was down 6.8% yesterday hitting a new 52 week low at $3.58 per share and has issued recent announcements that both their President and CEO will be stepping down from their posts. Although it was a surprise to many to see longtime Founder and CEO Mike Ramsay agree to step down from the CEO perch the real question that I still have is why are they letting the monkey stick around as Chairman?

TiVo’s spin machine continues to liken their company to Apple Computer and their product to the ever popular iPod mp3 player. While TiVo is floundering at marketing their popular device Apple in contrast is thriving seeing their stock hit new highs and a recent explosion in popularity of their product line with the release of the iPod mini. Yesterday Charles Cooper over at CNET suggested that TiVo needed a savior like Steve Jobs to help it distinguish it’s product among it’s competitors.

Also this morning, over at PVRblog they report on Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the Wharton School Kevin Werbach’s writing of TiVo’s obituary. Although Werbach figures TiVo is down for the count he still sees some value in both their brand name and intellectual property and patent assets.

“OK, I have to admit it. Tivo’s goose is cooked. I’ve been a Tivo user for years, and like most Tivo owners, I absolutely love the product. I’ve been convinced since I first plugged it in that some day, all TV would work like this. And I’m still convinced of that. Television as a fixed schedule grid determined by networks and cable operators is doomed. User control is the future of TV.

…Tivo, though, still has two big assets. I’m reasonably confident those assets will be valuable enough for one of the major industry players to purchase, or perhaps a consortium. The assets are Tivo’s brand, and its patents.”