A Tale Of Two Spotifys: TiVo v Roku

Dave Zatz —  February 9, 2013 — 13 Comments

Within a few days of each other, Roku and TiVo launched Spotify music streaming apps a month or so ago. While both apps appear to be missing Spotify Radio, the difference in launch speed is dramatic… yet representative of their respective architectures.

As you can see from the video above, the TiVo Spotify app takes over thirty seconds to load while the Roku app is up and playing music in about 5 seconds. TiVo’s app may be visual richer, once it finally opens, but the sluggish interaction is further hindered without TiVo Slide or smarthphone keyboard support… unlike Roku’s integration of their virtual keyboard. Whether or not this is TiVo’s fault is mostly irrelevant as it’s ultimately their (customer’s) problem. And it’s somewhat disappointing that a top-of-the-line TiVo Premiere XL4 ($400, plus service fees) can’t keep up with a diminutive and inexpensive Roku ($80). Apps may not be TiVo’s primary selling point, but it’s frequently their differentiator over the competing cableco’s DVR…

As I alluded to yesterday, it’s unfortunate that I feel the need to colocate a Roku with every TiVo to get a more pleasing (and stable) experience in accessing some of the very same channels (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus). Of course, that’s looking at the glass as half empty. The alternate perspective is that Roku continues to offer the best bang for the OTT buck. Here’s to hoping TiVo’s next line of DVRs truly live up to that “one box” billing.

13 responses to A Tale Of Two Spotifys: TiVo v Roku

  1. Nice choice of music! :)

    I wonder if Spotify is one of the apps that will be available on the Mini and how fast it launches since the CES reports indicate that the Mini is faster than the current Premiere platform.

  2. Thanks for the nod!

    I must say as someone who was once clearly a huge fan of TiVo’s potential as an app platform. They really lost me with the Premiere as an app platform.

    To add insult to injury, they can barely run the TiVo high def interface on the thing… years after it was released!

  3. I agree Tivo has really dropped the ball as far as “Smart TV” apps are concerned. They should be as far along as Roku instead they are almost out of the running. If it is a hardware problem then they should have updated by now. I actually like the fact that many pod casts can be downloaded instead of streamed but that part doesn’t seem to be being maintain very well. In any event they need to go with the streaming apps. and certain have great apps for all the main players.

  4. By the by, looks like TiVo is recruiting to fill the spot vacated by their API/SDK champion. They could really use a shot in the arm as the Developer Channel is currently a sad and lonely place. Then again, things may not improve until they’ve got a different sort of platform to work with.

    http://www.linkedin.com/jobs/jobs-Product-Manager-Developer-4629332

    Product Manager, Developer SDK and Third Party Applications Description: You will define the go-to-market approach for 3rd party applications on TiVo, work with engineering to define the TiVo Developer SDK, and engage 3rd party developers to bring new applications to market on TiVo devices.

  5. This has been TiVo’s problem since day 1: the interface is beautiful, elegant and way more than is necessary. So many good ideas, so much potential, but they never quite manage to pull it off.

  6. If I was the board of directors I would seriously consider putting a commission together to determine WHERE all the “research and development” $$$ went the last four years. HUNDREDS of millions of $$$’s and for what?????

    Someone NEEDS to be canned and ONCE AGAIN it’s the USELESS and INCOMPETENT CEO.

  7. I am a premium Spotify user, their desktop client is superb (compared to the competitors), and their iPad and iPhone client is very usable as well.

    I was excited to see TiVo get the app, and I approached my first launch with nervous excitement, knowing TiVo has a history (business model?) of not doing a good job with basically anything outside of simple guides and DVR tasks.

    TiVo did not disappoint. The Spotify app is nice looking, I suppose, but PAINFULLY slow, almost comically, and nobody in their right mind would use it for anything other than set it to a playlist and walk off. Navigation, searching, etc, are slow slow it makes you want to laugh and cry.

    I’m still baffled that Tivo exists. As a 10+ year user, I’ve enjoyed the DVR, but it’s basically unchanged. A good competitor should end this madness, and while loyal to Tivo (of course, what choice do I really have), I’ll have no issue jumping ship.

    In summary – the new Spotify app on TiVo sucks. :^)

  8. I also operate the TiVo, Roku tandem. The Roku just does such a better job (stability & speed) with the same applications. I suppose the “one box” is still the dream.

  9. Hey Dave,

    Not sure what you’re complaining about… sure the GUI takes a while to load, but the Kinks start playing almost immediately after you select the app. Sure it’ll be a while before you get to select the next song to play after that but …

    Wait, what?

    Oh, nevermind.

  10. And I still say “My Morning Jackets” “Slow Slow Tune”:

    would have been a good choice. Oh well, congrats Kyle!

  11. Well depending how the FiOS TV Pandora and YouTube apps compare to TiVo, we may have another opportunity some some leisurely music.

  12. I do agree that these new OTP apps are terribly slow. Frankly, I find them unusable…

    I am pretty happy with the overall performance of the TiVo premier line – it could be snapier, but it is definately usable.

    These new apps simply are not usable. Unfortunate.

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