TiVo has reportedly laid off most of its hardware engineers as it shifts its focus to cloud services. But the company that popularized time-shifted TV watching isn’t killing off DVR hardware for now.
Word of the layoffs came from Wired, whose sources within TiVo said the company let go of five engineers, including most of its industrial designers. That left a “skeleton crew” of two engineers to support current products and future third-party devices.
After the story ran, TiVo denied Wired’s claim that the company was getting out of the hardware business. TiVo said it will use third-party designers for hardware in the future. Spokesman Steve Wymer also told several publications that TiVo is committed to its Roamio DVR, and is planning future products.
Wymer didn’t deny that layoffs took place, however, and it’s no secret that TiVo has its eyes on the cloud. At CES this month, TiVo talked up a network DVR service that will store recorded programs online instead of locally. The plan is to offer this “nDVR” to cable, satellite, and Internet television providers, who will then enable the service for their subscribers.
Moving to the cloud would bring some benefits to users, such as the ability to buy more storage space without having to upgrade hardware, and it could make activation simpler. But it also would give TV providers more control over recording and viewing rights. TiVo would likely face an uproar from loyal customers if local DVR storage went away, and there’s no obvious reason for TiVo to kill that business outright, especially because TiVo’s cloud services only exist in prototype form for now.