TiVo's fallen a long way since the heady days of the early 2000s, when its DVRs were cutting-edge technology in the early era of digital TV. With its stock now trading for under a tenth of what it did at the company's height, TiVo's new CEO hopes to pin the company's future on... a $50 Android TV dongle. Given that a slew of such dongles are likely on the way (including Dish Network's AirTV Mini) and cheap Android TV boxes are already available, TiVo's play to stand out seems to be its own branded and customized version of the Android TV interface bundled with access to its DVR service.
TiVo does not currently distribute an Android TV-compatible app on the Google Play Store, presumably in order to reserve that "feature" as one for customers who opt to buy either a TiVo streaming device or a TiVo-partnered device like the one we saw at CES earlier this year. Frankly, this seems shortsighted: Android allows the sideloading of applications, and while there are methods to try to prevent an app from being installed on "unsupported" hardware, those limitations are often motivated by business — rather than technical — considerations. But TiVo is already launching apps for Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku, making an attempt to single out Android TV as the only "limited" platform for the app seem foolhardy.
In an environment where discrete smart TV hardware is increasingly a race to the bottom, it's tough to see how TiVo's strategy here makes any kind of sense; it seems like a desperation play meant to bolster TiVo's image as a hardware company. As much as TiVo may want to fast-forward past the harsh realities of being a vendor in a heavily price-competitive market, I'm unsure they'll see any more success than if they were to simply launch their streaming app for Android TV at large.