The Hope for a Mac DVR

by Jason Deraleau

For quite some time now, I've held out hope for an Apple-branded Home Theater PC (HTPC). I'm certainly not alone, with many others also contributing to the dialog. A popular feature of the mythical Mac mini HTPC is Apple's "TiVo-killer" DVR application. Surely Apple's excellence in making complicated technology simple would allow them to make an app that could crush the popular DVR service.

While Apple probably could create such a piece of software -- which would be quite an accomplishment given how well TiVo has done theirs -- I think the biggest barrier that'd keep an Apple DVR program from coming to market is Apple itself. Given the recent addition of TV shows to the iTunes Music Store, it makes better business sense to promote and drive sale of that content. It's more profitable for Apple to sell four or five episodes per month (plus backlog!) of a user's favorite shows than it is to brand their own DVR service and try to compete with TiVo (as well as the numerous cable companies that now have DVR offerings).

Perhaps Apple could create a superior solution, but the DVR market isn't the MP3 player business. It's hardly the type of nascent environment that allowed the iPod to flourish. The products that are in place are mature and established. It'd take a very compelling offering and a decent amount of time for Apple to break into the business. However, downloading television shows (legally) is the "bleeding edge" of content delivery. So, Apple can either position itself as "the next TiVo" or it can have others line up to be "the next iTunes Store."

Keeping Jobs's taste for the limelight and Apple's ambitions to be pioneers of the industry in mind, I think they're going to lean toward the latter. At least they don't have it as bad as Sony. Besides, now I get to relive all of those old Beavis and Butt-Head episodes, courtesy of the iTunes Store. And if you're still jonesing for DVR capabilities on your Mac, don't forget about Elgato.


2006-02-03 17:45:06
i'm holding out for a DVR from apple as well...but i'm not so sure about it. what are the chances that apple just buys elgato and uses their software? i haven't used eyetv but from what i've seen and read, it looks simple and rather elegant. i have used titantv's service, which is about as easy as it gets.
2006-02-04 09:58:56
Keep in mind that Tivo is only available in North America - there are other markets with vastly inferior current product offerings.
Small Paul
2006-02-04 10:22:57
I hear that Elgato might now be controllable via FrontRow, if you get a little plug-in thingy for it.

That'd be sweet. I've got the little EyeTV widget, and it is pretty cool. If I could control it via FrontRow, I'd be sorely tempted to get a new iMac (with 500 GB hard drive, of course) as the Mac media centre to rule them all :)

2006-02-05 18:27:09
I don't see it being a lot different from iTunes allowing you to import your own CDs competing with iTMS. They could also do something like only allowing content to be saved on the PVR for 2 weeks.
Steve Chisnall
2006-02-06 15:53:46
I think Apple has already released a home theater PC interface. It's called FrontRow

2006-02-06 18:30:18
For what it's worth:

Freddie Geier to head up Apple Computer Germany

For FrontRow-inspired software that's EyeTV-aware see equinux USA's:


2006-02-06 18:32:40
PS: Previous post was by me; I'm not Anonymous.
Ryan Warner
2006-03-01 08:59:23
Apple would probably always struggle in the DVR space. Not only will they have to compete with Tivo who is struggling, they will have to take on the Cable company DVRs which are thriving. I say skip the HTPC and just make a Media Appliance. Stores music (including iTMS purchases), videos, movies, streams media from the internet or other PCs/devices on your subnet, and serves media to networked devices. Add a few inputs that link it to your cable companies DVR cable box, HD-DVD player, and your tuner. Integrate all the functinality into FrontRow, but limit it to FrontRow.

In other words, merge the iPod HiFi with the Mac Mini, but strip it down to an appliance. No support for applications. If you purchase a song from iTMS on your computer, it is automatically loaded onto the iMediaBox for centralized storage. Upgrade your computer? Your music, videos, and photos don't need to be migrated. They stay on the iMediaBox. This could be made to work with Windows computers, so it has a larger audience than just Mac users. But of course it would have additional cool featurs if used with a Mac.

2006-04-18 10:18:31
Simple solution would be for Apple to buy Tivo, especially since Tivo's patent victory. Ideal packaging would be a Mac Mini sized box with the big hard drive, slot for cable card, etc. to make a two high home theatre solution.
2006-04-18 11:56:42
Almost forgot, buy Sonos too, for audio/video distribution around the house.