Moxi Will Fail

Doc Searls points to an article on TV Predictions (quoted below) that says the Moxi will fail, and notes that the author, Phillip Swann thinks TiVO will succeed. Doc actually thinks TV will fail… which is not something I’m going to get into yet.

With regard to TiVO… In my opinion, TiVO is failing. They established the market for DVRs (along with Replay… though where are they now??) but have lost their lead, even though they are the established name for what a DVR is. The current growth in the marketplace is coming from cable and satellite installed boxes for a variety of reasons, but mainly based on 2 factors…

Cost and Ease of Install – There is no upfront cost to the consumer for a box from your cable company. It gets installed by the cable guy unless you’re a DIY type and can pick one up at a local office.

These boxes are also simpler than TiVO. They offer no predictive features, which I know uber-fans of TiVO think make the boxes less attractive, but to the average consumer, that would just go to waste. The marketing for these boxes is quite simple and direct. In NYC, Time Warner has done a solid job keeping the message focused on the basics (which people get) pause, ff, rw and of course time-shifting (though they never call it that). I’ve seen some nice spots on cable (of course!) and as bill inserts each month.

TiVO could be taking a similar path — though they would have to pay for the TV media and most likely would not get access to do bill inserts. That does not mean that traditional direct marketing ideas don’t apply. I’ve mentioned this quite a few times here (feel free to search). They need to educate, not entertain so people know first what it is and then that it’s not a big deal to set-up and use. Once people use TiVO (or any DVR) they love it, the trick is getting them to shell out…

Back to Moxi… Moxi is the next generation of what is happening in the set-top box world. It can serve as more than just a DVR, performing media center functions so hopefully the cable companys will go slow, or at least keep it simple. I don’t live in a Comcast market so it will be tough to see directly what they are up to… I believe Moxi can succeed. If I was them, I would lead with the advanced DVR stuff and follow-up at install and via welcome communications (mail or email linking to an educational web site as well as a special channel on TV with similar content) with the rest of the features. Home networks and media serving are not basic concepts and need to be treated with care for the mass consumer markets.

The average TV viewer does not understand new technology. Not only that, he fears it. He’s afraid that if he buys a new gadget that he will never fully understand how to use it. Afterall, he’s still confused over why his VCR clock is still blinking “12:00.”

The fear of the unknown (technology) is a major reason why the DVR has failed to reach a mass audience. Many consumers believe that it’s difficult to install and use. So, why bother when you already have a VCR to record your favorite shows? (Even though many people don’t understand how to program the VCR, they do know how to hit the “Record” button.)

For the DVR to ultimately succeed, DVR services must create the perception that the technology is simple to use — and it’s an improvement on the existing product (the VCR).

So, enter the Moxi Media Center. The receiver is stuffed with so many features that it will only create more confusion and fear in the average household. Viewers will perceive Moxi as a jumble of technologies that don’t really address a specific need or desire. By trying to be everything, Moxi becomes a whole lot of nothing.

If Moxi was marketed solely as a DVR or even a home networking device, then it would have a chance; viewers would eventually come to understand the product’s purpose. However, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for cable operators to clearly communicate what Moxi does — and why anyone should care. In fact, it’s almost laughable that anyone would think that it will succeed, under current conditions. [TV Predictions]

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