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TiVo, Amazon Ask You To "Buy It Now"


New feature allows you to shop while you watch.

The fast-talking TV pitchman may be a candidate for the wax museum if a joint venture by TiVo (TIVO) and (AMZN) takes off.

The dream: turn TVs into a remote control order-taking device that allows viewers to buy advertised products, including books discussed on talk shows and even product placements in sitcoms or dramatic shows.

Today, TiVo will introduce a "product purchase" button on its onscreen menus: Just a few clicks will allow viewers to order items from Amazon.

If successful, the move will create a new source of revenue for both companies. TiVo wants to move toward advertising and away from being just a maker of set-top boxes, a product that's increasingly becoming a low-margin commodity.

The irony: TiVo has introduced viewers to the joy of recording programs and fast-forwarding through the ads. Understandably, this drives folks at the networks nuts.

Time Warner (TWX) pioneered the buy-now idea in the 1970s with the Qube box, but it fizzled because the clunky technology took viewers away from the program when placing an order. But TiVo allows viewers to record the program and return to it without missing a yuk or a single drop of blood splatter while ordering that "must-have" item.

Still, the number of Tivo users remains small so there will be no immediate miracles stemming from the linkup with Amazon.

Tivo and Amazon have a great idea, but so was the rotary engine. If it works, it'll make life even more difficult for newspaper companies like McClatchy (MNI) and Gannett (GCI), which still offer clip-and-save coupons.

Giving viewers the ability to buy a book discussed on a Sunday program is a good idea, but the market is small. Will people want to buy Archie Bunker's chair or a pint of Snapple because Jerry Seinfeld drinks them? Or how about a bikini worn by Paris Hilton, that much-revered font of wisdom and arbiter of cool?

We'll see - it's a brave new world, kiddo.

For more on Amazon, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report.

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