TiVo getting its wish, as more people warm up to 'DVR' as a verb

Posted on Tue Dec 8 2009


For a while, TiVo had achieved what some marketers think is a worthy goal: Its name became shorthand for the category, the same way Kleenex is for tissues or Coke is for cola. TiVo wasn't too happy about that, though, as it feared brand dilution. The company notes on its Web site: "Consider the following now-generic nouns that were once trademarks: Escalator, Linoleum, Kerosene, Cellophane, Thermos, Aspirin, Yo Yo and Bikini. The importance of correct trademark use cannot be emphasized enough." TiVo even used lawyers' letters to get journalists to stop using the term to represent the category. Well, the company seems to be getting its wish. Have you noticed how more people are now saying they "DVR" their favorite shows, despite having to utter that extra syllable? A search on Dow Jones' Factiva service brings up 58 mentions of people having "TiVoed" something over the last 12 months, compared to 77 a year earlier. Over the same time, "DVRed" inched up slightly, from 26 to 28 mentions. The term is also losing ground in Google News search results, where "DVRed" had nine recent mentions compared to seven for "TiVoed." More ominously, there are 118,000 Google results for "DVRed," compared to 37,000 for "TiVoed." There's a fairly simple explanation: TiVo's market share is now less than 8 percent of the DVR category. Microsoft would like the same thing to happen to Google, and would love to hear that people "Binged" stuff they wanted to learn about. Quantifying Bing's influence will be tricker, though, as it shares that past-tense form with the verb "to binge." As in, "I binged on turkey over Thanksgiving." Or should that be, "I binged on Butterball this Thanksgiving"?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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