Many people are still confused about what on a Motorola set-top is actually Motorola technology. Simply put, the hardware is all Motorola, but the software is whatever operators want it to be. For example, Comcast now runs the GuideWorks interface exclusively on its Motorola set-tops after discontinuing the use of the Microsoft TV Foundation guide. However, Comcast has also decided that it will run TiVo software on the Motorola set-tops, and specific details on timing for that rollout – Boston area later this summer – were announced yesterday.
User interfaces are a funny thing. Many, many people love the TiVo interface, but fandom is not universal. How do I know? Well for one, I don’t particularly like the TiVo UI. And no, it’s not because I work for Motorola, a competitor to TiVo on the hardware front. I formed a general opinion on TiVo long before I had any connection to Motorola.
To my eyes, the TiVo guide is cutesy. In fact, it reminds me of the AOL approach to Internet browsing, with cartoony branding around every screen. In response to that conclusion I’ve had people tell me that the real revolution from TiVo was a simple DVR guide that just works. That’s true. But many years after TiVo’s introduction, I think there’s room in the market for a wholly different UI – something a little classier and more sophisticated, though just as easy as TiVo to use.