VoIP provider, engin, has announced it will be handling the marketing and retail distribution of the popular American home entertainment device, the TiVo, once it is released in Australia by the Seven network in mid-2008.
The company has also struck a deal with Optus to resell naked ADSL2+ connectivity to the consumer market, which will be bundled with its VoIP plans. The TiVo device will be sold through engin's mass retail, reseller and wholesale (ISP) channel.
engin CEO, Illka Tales, said the company would seek to sign up a digital-home focused channel to complement its existing partners.
"Certainly, the number of partners will increase - especially among those that sell entertainment devices such as televisions," he said.
Tales said the TiVo product was incredibly popular among retailers in the United States. Seventy per cent of TiVo sales in the US are through the retail channel, he said.
"From a retail perspective, they earn a decent margin," he said. "And Tivo is one of the top three brands in the US next to Apple and Nokia."
engin marketing director, Phil Dobbie, claimed US retailers, such as Best Buy, don't stock any other Personal Video Recorder but the TiVo.
"[TiVo has] an incredibly rich and intuitive graphic user interface," he said. "It's also got a better EPG (Electronic Program Guide) than anything in the marketplace."
Features include SeasonPass - which allows users to record an entire season of a show, rather than just selecting a timeslot. Users can also program the device to search and record programs based on an interest, genre or a keyword using the WishList function.
engin will drive the marketing of the product, but the company is not disclosing how much it will spend.
Tales was confident of the product's potential, and wasn't concerned by Australia's slow uptake of digital television to date.
The lack of a consistent EPG for the Australian digital TV market has been a major barrier to the success of personal video recorders (PVRs) such as the TiVo.
An EPG is an electronic version of your TV guide - which allows the PVR to record specific programming. Unfortunately, broadcasters in Australia (such as NineMSN) have attempted to claim copyright over their programming information - even suing third-party EPG providers over the serving of this information.
But Tales said he "firmly believed" the free-to-air channels and industry groups will solve the EPG dilemma before the TiVo product launches.