I always mention to my friends that the $12.95 a month I paid to TiVo was the best monthly spending when we were in the States. I am a huge fan of TiVo and even successfully referred a couple of PFBlog readers to the service (and I got a D-Link USB Wireless Card from TiVo :-)). It's a pity we couldn't take the box back when we relocated in late 2005; our entire family has been missing the freedom TiVo brought to us ever since.
Now comes the good news: TiVo is available in China now! TiVo, partnering with TGC Inc., is now promoting the service in the mainland China market. Based on its localized manual, it seems that the TiVo boxes in the China market have almost exactly the same interface and functionality.
Of course, China market requires a different pricing strategy. Currently there is only one model in the market: a 80-hour Series 2 version that is priced at 2,950 yuan (or about $380), with three-months of free service. I would say it is very pricy -- 80-hour Series 2 DT, an enhanced model that can record two shows at the same time, only sells for $69.99 in the US market with 1-year service commitment.
On the other hand, the monthly service fee is much lower in this part of the world. 15 yuan, or less than $2 a month, is all it needs to maintain your TiVo subscription. One can also enjoy lifetime subscription for 495 yuan ($64) -- this is less than five months' of subscription price in the States.
This pricing strategy is making a lot of sense. Here in China people are not getting used to expensive monthly subscription fees (for example, broadband internet only costs $10/month and cable TV is only $4/month). Therefore, TiVo does not have the luxury of selling the hardware at a loss, and expect to recover the loss from monthly charges.
Apparently, at $380 for a slightly outdated machine, TiVo is making a killing on every sale. However, this also makes me wonder whether this business model will successfully attract enough loyal customers to be sustainable. For now, I'm still waiting on the sideline, hoping TiVo can reduce the price to cater to a larger potential customer base. (TiVo, please face it: if I, as a loyal past customer who is also quite well paid, am still struggling at the checkout counter, what you ask for is indeed too expensive.)