Tivo Takes The Platform Plunge - InformationWeek

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Tivo Takes The Platform Plunge

Tivo wants outside developers to turn its digital set-top box into a home entertainment platform--and to turn up the heat on the company's competitors.

TiVo Inc. on Monday unveiled software tools that it hopes developers will use to build home-entertainment applications and services for the company's digital set-top box.

The Java-based software development kit provides application programming interfaces and other tools that would enable developers to take advantage of the broadband-connected TiVo Series 2 DVR (digital video recorder.) Tivo hopes developers will build a wide variety of applications for the platform, including music and photo services, advanced program and movie guides, multiplayer games and information feeds for sports, weather and news.

"This is the first time we have publicly allowed third-parties to have access to the platform and develop their own applications," Howard Look, vice president of applications and user experience for TiVo, said. "Today kicks off this new phase in our company."

The SDK is available for download through Sourceforge.net, an open-source software development website.

The latest offering is part of Tivo's "Tahiti" service strategy that was announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The service includes providing subscribers with the ability to record from the Internet and access web services, along with traditional cable programming.

Set-top box makers like Alviso, Calif.-based, Tivo are battling with PC makers to become the entertainment hub for people's living rooms. License revenues from software embedded in network-connected, digital set-top boxes is expected to reach nearly $800 million in 2008 from about $270 million this year, according to market researcher In-Stat.

Later this year, Tivo expects to roll out to subscribers software and services developed by itself and third-party developers, Look said.

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