December 30, 2008 Phil

Digital Video Recorders – Why doesn’t everyone have one?

Who wants to watch a commercial when you can buy a recorder that will bypass disruptive TV ads and deliver just the meat? I would think everyone would want to get rid of commercials, right? Well just about everyone. The television networks and ad agency in the US are probably not in a big rush to dismiss the 70 billion dollars in revenue they generate. In fact, they’re probably wishing the technology world had ignored the demand to get rid of commercials because now they have to go back to the drawing board and reinvent how people consume television content. Too late now to go back, DVRs are here to stay. The only real question that needs answering now is why doesn’t everyone own a DVR? Afterall they’ve been on the market for 3 years now, it only took a few years for the VCR to become mainstream.

As I wandered around the shopping malls making mental notes of all the gifts everyone had to have for Christmas this year, it seem very odd to me that the big electronic stores were not pushing DVRs. There weren’t any displays or promotional deals. Boxing Day flyers pushed Blu-Ray players which seems even more weird given most people are moving away from out-of-home rentals choosing to download movies off the Net. It feels a bit like the early days of Napster when the music industry choose to ignore the fact that music sales were all moving online and tried to sue their customers. This time; however, they are handling it a bit differently because they can control the production.

You have to wonder why no one is marketing the hell out of DVRs. Why not promote a DVR system and start building the infrastructure to facilitate online video purchasing? Why do companies appear to be avoiding the DVR business? I love conspiracy theories so here’s one for you. The big players in the entertain industry probably got together and collectively decided to slow the technology growth in DVRs so that the advertising industry has time to figure how to recover the billions of dollars in lost revenue. Unlike Napster which only needed a small piece of software to play a mp3, DVR hardware needs electronic assembly lines to produce the end product. A company like Sony could easily just avoid the production and marketing of DVRs, afterall it’s in their best interest not to make them.

You feeling the “control” thing? I’d love to have a DVR, in fact given how much I love technology it surprises me I don’t have one already. I asked myself, “self” why don’t you own a DVR? The answer came swiftly, they’re not accessible in the stores that I frequent. When I visited the Future Shop recently to by a LCD television the salesperson never asked me if I wanted a DVR with it. He did point out the great deals on Blu-Ray and Sound Systems. When I asked for a DVR they informed me there were none in stock. The salesperson recommended I rent from the cable company for $10 per month. Cable companies love to rent them because they can “control” the hardware. Okay maybe I’m obessing a bit and have become a slightly sensitive to conspiracies, but you have to admit it does sound suspicious, right?

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