Let me start by saying that I think Tivo, along with the Macintosh computer and buying stuff on the Internet, is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century. The ability to pause live TV or record it via hard drive was a brilliant innovation that has changed the way people think about and use their content. So, it was with a great deal of interest that I ready this Hollywood Reporter article which talks about two of my favorite things joining forces to launch a new video download service.

The new service, known as "Amazon Unbox on Tivo", was originally announced last month but officially went live on Wednesday. It is an extension of Amazon's already existing Unbox service which lets buyers purchase video from Amazon's site and download it to their computers for viewing. With the addition of Tivo as a partner, buyers can now download the content to their computers and then play it through their networked Tivo boxes onto their televisions. Even with this new service, Tivo and Amazon have a long way to go to compete with content providers like Apple's iTunes Store.

As it states in the article, Apple has sold millions of iPods that can play video purchased from iTunes. In contrast, only about 600,000 users have networked Tivos. But even with Tivo's vastly inferior number of potential users, Tara Maitra, Vice President of Content Services at TiVo, is upbeat: "The rate at which we went from zero to 600,000 has happened very quickly. Something like 60% of new boxes are connecting, so certainly the level of interest for having the TiVo on a home network is growing," she said. I hope her positive outlook is warranted because I really want to see Tivo stay in business a long time -- even if they compete with my other favorite company, Apple.