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Griffin's Tech Blog
Peter Griffin on the tech universe

My Sky movies vanish into thin air [+ comments]


So how's this for annoying: you stump up $599 to rent Sky TV's My Sky box which allows you to record live TV, fast forward through adverts and collect hours of content for later viewing.
Then Sky decides to do an over-the-air software update from the satellite it uses and in the process, wipes everything on your My Sky box and renders it inoperable.
That's what happened to some My Sky subscribers about a week ago. A glitch with the update meant that numerous Sky subscribers had the contents of their My Sky hard drives erased. The box could function again once it was reset, but everything sitting on the hard drive was gone forever.
One of those caught out in the upgrade was National MP Craig Foss, who had filled 60 per cent of his My Sky recorder with content only to lose the lot. A relative of Foss' and fellow My Sky user was caught in the same position. Foss was miffed that he wasn't contacted by Sky about the problem and that when he rang the helpdesk, was told that there would be no compensation for the loss as My Sky subscribers use the box at their own risk.
Sky spokesman Tony O'Brien couldn't explain what exactly happened with the wayward update, but he said it affected less than one per cent of Sky's 18,000 strong My Sky user base.
He said that there would be no compensation because the My Sky box was just like a DVD recorder or VCR - the user took responsibility for recorded content and what happened to it.
That may be the case when it comes to consumer electronics and computers where manufacturers always exempt themselves from loss of content, which let's face it, is invaluable.

But a couple of things put My Sky users in a different position.
They do not actually own the My Sky recorder, they pay $599 upfront and effectively rent the recorder as long as they are Sky subscribers. If the price wasn't hefty enough, there's also the reality that they'll have to give the box back if they unsubscribe from Sky.
That explains why Sky, with a user base of over 700,000, has only managed to sign up 18,000 My Sky users. Secondly, the loss of content for some My Sky users was Sky's fault, not the users.
Sky put out a buggy update. This wasn't a case of people accidentally pressing the DELETE button.
As Sky is effectively offering a service rather than a product and was responsible for the problem, you think they'd be offering the 180 or so customers affected a couple of months' free subscription - or something.
Everyone I know who has a My Sky recorder absolutely loves it. The recorder is tightly integrated with Sky's electronic programming guide and the hard drive is big enough for a decent amount of content.
Let's face it, this is the way we are all going to watch TV in future - not necessarily live, but time-shifted, so that we play it back from the recorder at our leisure. Stand alone hard drive recorders don't have the advantage of the Sky programming guide integration, which gives Sky a major advantage.
But My Sky is over-priced at $599, considering users merely rent the device rather than own it. I hope there's enough competition from rival recorders to bring down prices by the time Sky introduces its My Sky 2 box which will be capable of receiving internet and high definition content.
In the meantime, existing My Sky subscribers should record anything on the box they really want to keep to their VCR or DVD recorder. You never know what the next upgrade might bring.

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