TiVo on Monday said it has added the Photobucket and Google Picasa photo-sharing sites to the list of online services available through its broadband-connected digital video recorders.
The enhancement reflects TiVo's ongoing plan to make its DVR an Internet hub for the home, as well as a device for playing and recording cable TV and satellite television programming. People with TiVo's high-end Series 3 box will be able to see their photos in high definition.
TiVo subscribers can access the photo-sharing applications through the "Music, Photos, Products & More" screen on their Internet-connected DVRs. Using the DVR's remote control, people can search community photos on the site by keyword and create custom slide shows of photos.
The latest enhancements, which are available to subscribers at no additional charge, represent an evolution in TiVo's DVR, as the company continues to try to differentiate its device from rivals through better integration with online services. Not the largest photo-sharing sites on the Web, Picasa and Photobucket are outranked by sites like Yahoo's Flickr.
Tying a DVR to the Internet makes sense, as people in growing numbers move to flat-screen digital televisions, which have sufficient resolution to view Web pages. Other services accessible through a TiVo box include RealNetworks' music service and Amazon.com's movie download service.
For TiVo, integration with Web services offers a way to better compete with cable and satellite companies offering DVRs from rivals such as Cisco Systems, Motorola, and Scientific-Atlanta. TiVo has been losing market share to rivals who have gained the advantage of wider distribution through TV service providers.
TiVo has also been working at boosting revenue by entering into other markets. Late last month, the company announced that its DVR software and program guide would be available for PCs equipped with TV tuners, under a partnership with Nero, a maker of DVD-burning software. No timetable for availability was released.
TiVo has also launched a research service in which advertisers can subscribe to TiVo-collected data that's based on its subscribers' viewing habits. The information is offered as a way for TV advertisers to track commercials to determine which are most effective on particular demographics, such as age or ethnicity of TiVo subscribers.