The Tube or Yahoo!

Anyone even halfway paying attention to developments in technology in the last decade can point to the growing trend of convergence. Voice, data, and video are now being delivered via an Internet protocol-based platform, and the result is that it's getting harder to tell the difference between cell phones, computers, and music players.

The partnership announced recently between Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) is another sign of this transformation. The scope of the deal as it stands is pretty modest. TiVo users will be able to access Yahoo! TV listings and use those listings to command TiVo to record certain shows. TiVo gains by adding a unique capability to its digital video recording offering.

But it's Yahoo! that stands to be the real winner, especially if the deal is only a first step. Yahoo! has been venturing into original content more and more these days. While the agreement includes no provision for TiVo subscribers to watch video via Yahoo!, it's certainly possible that this might be added in the future. If the partnership expands in that direction, Yahoo! will essentially have a back-door entrance onto TV sets that bypasses cable.

True, Internet on TV crashed and burned in the past under the leadership of none other than Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL. But this time it could be different. The Web is a more dynamic place now, and technology is improving Internet video quality. Further, for video, especially longer clips, a couch seems like a more natural viewing spot than an office chair. Finally, Yahoo! has a management bench with lots of experience in the entertainment industry -- including folks such as Lloyd Braun, who oversaw the development of TV hits such as Lost.

It looks like the ball is in Yahoo!'s court. Admittedly, there are some obstacles in the way. TiVo has a major distribution arrangement with DirecTV (NYSE: DTV  ) , which might not be too happy about a system that sidesteps its platform. And even if Yahoo! does get TiVo to expand the arrangement, the Internet giant would have to come up with some killer programming. Despite the hurdles, it's worth staying tuned to this story.

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Time Warner is also aStock Advisorrecommendation. To see more stock ideas from Tom and David Gardner, click here.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.


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