Ultimate And TiVo Face Off At IRMA

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INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. -Hard disk recording rivals TiVo and Microsoft's Ultimate TV provided separate presentations of their products and their view of the new category to IRMA attendees.

TiVo "evangelist" Richard Bullwinkle said that Ultimate TV's entry into the market and its $50 million ad campaign have helped the entire category by making "consumers aware of what hard disk recording is and what it can do."

Bullwinkle noted that last spring there were 72,000 TiVo users in the United States, now there are 150,000 "and by March 2002, who knows? We will push as hard as we can." But flying in the face of consumer electronics history, he said that TiVo will buck the trend and not become "part of someone else's box.and become a commodity." He stressed that with "good services, good features, [TiVo] will maintain its value with fees."

Mark Mullen, senior director of Microsoft's Ultimate TV, demonstrated the unit that is designed for use with DirecTV. While he said that consumers could roam the Web or send e-mail during a show, Mullen rather astutely pointed out, "We are still consumer electronics in the living room, where watching TV is a holy experience for many. So these features should not interfere with the TV experience."

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