Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What’s Next for SageTV Customers Post-Google?


Since receiving word of Google’s acquisition of leading MediaPC company, SageTV this past Saturday fear and speculation has been the norm for the existing SageTV user base.  Saturday I reached out to SageTV and Google representatives to gather as much information as possible.  Keep in mind the transaction very likely had just been finalized so it takes some time to sort through all of the details including sales of existing products, supporting existing users etc. etc. 

Today I received some answers for many of my questions – most of these are focused on what happens next for SageTV users.  We won’t be receiving any official information on Google’s plans with the future of SageTV + Google for now, although I plan to share my thoughts on that soon as well.

Note:  In the responses below, “we” typically means “SageTV/Google” since they are now one and the same company.

Answers from Google/SageTV are in bold below:

EPG Data

If you already use SageTV and rely on it for your TV recording and viewing needs, the first thing you want to know is what happens to the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) data that is used for seeing what shows are scheduled on your TV – it’s an essential part of your DVR. 

SageTV’s EPG data will continue to remain active for at least one year.

Existing SageTV Keys & SageTV Beta Status

The most recent version of SageTV was in a public beta so I asked what happens to that beta?

The beta versions do not expire. SageTV/Google does not currently have plans relating to posting a final release of V7.1; the current release candidate is of 'release' quality based on SageTV’s prior standards. 


Existing, Purchased SageTV Product Keys

Purchased keys from SageTV products will continue to be valid. There is no time limit on them.


SageTV Software as we know it – Is There a Future?

I asked the obvious question, Will the software & hardware we know as SageTV exist in any form post acquisition?  The answer, as expected is “we cannot comment at this time.”

That isn’t as good as “yes”, but it’s better than a flat out no.  I’m not surprised to get the no comment answer on that one for now.  We’ll have to see what happens at Google Labs and/or GoogleTV – could be a while.


SageTV Forums & Downloads

I asked what would happen to the existing SageTV forums & downloads currently hosted by SageTV?  Will users continue to have access to these resources important to the SageTV software? 

Yes, the forums will remain open and we plan to make current version downloads available to current customers.  Plans are to continue making the 3rd Party plug-in downloads available as well.

SageTV HD300 (Extender/Player) Warranty/Service

I asked if the warranty for those who recently purchased SageTV HD300’s will be honored.

Google will be honoring the 1 year warranty policy on the HD300.

Will HD300’s Be Available for Purchase?

Many SageTV users have been wanting to purchase another HD300, but the SageTV store has been closed since the acquisition.  So I asked if they had plans to sell any of the existing HD300 stock or perhaps even sell new ones.

Unfortunately the answer here was “we can't comment at this time.” 

Google Beta Testing?

I threw this one in hoping to get a “feel” for the SageTV/Google future:  “Does Google need an awesome group of beta testers (aka SageTV beta group)?  I many SageTV users would love to contribute.

Yes, Google will be interested in beta testers in the future. We will inform the community of any related opportunities.

Role for SageTV 3rd Party Developers?

I asked if there was any chance the existing group of 3rd party developers most of which worked on these projects for "fun" could contribute towards similar 3rd party add-ons with Google's future GoogleTV?

No comment related to Google TV. But we do want the developer community to remain alive and strong. They've been an integral part of SageTV's success and we value them greatly, as does Google.

Software-Only GoogleTV/SageTV Future?

I threw out this one as a long-shot:  Does Google plan to provide any software-only installation of GoogleTV/SageTV in the future like SageTV allows for today?

The answer was as expected:  “We can't comment at this time.”

GoogleTV DVR Capability?

Another long-shot question from me:  Any hope for DVR capability in GoogleTV with this acquisition?  That was one of SageTV's strengths over the competition.

The answer again was as expected:  “We can't comment at this time.”

There you have it – existing SageTV will still have SageTV available to us along with the EPG data, downloads, 3rd party plug-ins etc at least for the next year.  Forums will continue to be hosted and maintained as well.  Beyond that though we just don’t know.  I saw no indication or even hope of new licenses or hardware being available making it difficult if you need to upgrade your HTPC system with an additional TV for instance.

As far as what Google plans to do with SageTV I think there are some things we can read from the above.  I get the feeling they really do plan on doing something with the SageTV assets directly with the next iteration of Google TV.  Does that mean DVR capability, placeshifting of some kind or something else?  We don’t know yet – I have my thoughts/educated guesses and will share it with you soon.  I don’t think much of the tech media really understands this acquisition yet – but they will soon.

Thanks to both the SageTV team and Google for responding to these questions!