New software and old hardware were fit to be featured this past week. Let's take a closer look.

Are you sure you're still just a search engine?
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) spent its early years perfecting its search engine, but the company's been doing much more than that these days. Fresh off the launch of its desktop application, Google rolled out its free Google Talk instant messaging service on Wednesday.

No surprise, really. It was just a matter of time before Google would have to enter the online chat market. Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL had dominated the niche for too long. In fact, Google's absence until this point was producing some deafening silence. With 99% of Google's revenue coming from advertising, virtual real estate is critical for the search-engine king, and that's why IM software was a necessary good move. If Google Talk is successful, it will expand virally, as users recommend it to their family and friends to stay in touch.

Success isn't assured just because it's from Google, of course. You can attach the spiffiest string to a snazzy paper cup, but it's a worthless contraption until you find someone with a another paper cup attached to the other end. Yahoo! and America Online, meanwhile, have been distributing their popular free communication programs for years now. However, Google's knack for improving on what's already out there -- check out Google Earth over the weekend to see what I mean -- needs to be respected in the marketplace. That Google's platform promises compatibility across all IM formats will go a long way toward clearing all the big hurdles, but on the other hand, that compatibility may also limit someone's need to switch to Google as the chat software of choice.

So that's what happens when I press that "thumbs down" button on my remote control?
TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) didn't have a good Thursday. That's when the stock got stung for a 15% loss after the pioneer of digital video recording warned that a shift in strategy will have it coming up short on the bottom line in the near term.

The new approach has TiVo going back to aggressively acquiring new subscribers, even if it comes at the expense of margin-obliterating hardware sales. It's a lot like the old TiVo, and that's not necessarily a good thing. I was starting to get a positive vibe from the latest incarnation of the company, which was stressing high-margin subscriber services and the potential of targeted advertising. Having lined up companies such as DirecTV (NYSE:DTV) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) that were willing to promote TiVo functionality on non-TiVo boxes, the company seemed to have the right approach toward reigning supreme as the only DVR brand that folks seem to remember.

As it stands, TiVo did turn a profit for the current quarter, but the hazy outlook as the company shifts gears has shareholders spooked. And with good reason.

The stock has not been a very good performer in recent years. Since being recommended in the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service, TiVo has meandered in the single digits.

There is still so much potential in TiVo that it's scary. I'm just wondering whether the company will get back on track long enough to realize it.

The headlines behind this week's stories:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Time Warner is a past recommendation of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a big fan of search portals and DVRs. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.