For you, I understand that Tivo is better than a smartphone plan. I get it.
But you can't really argue that it's that way for the general public. Money has spoken and _in most cases_ people are willing to front the $80 bucks vs a Tivo, which is why Tivo is in trouble, and Apple is raking in a fortune.
a couple points:
1) 15 years ago, cell phones were just becoming mainstream
2) I'll argue that 15 years ago, people _wanted_ information wherever/whenever - it just wasn't technically feasible, or exorbitantly expensive
3) There aren't many options for non monthly fee cell phone plans - sure there are prepaid plans, but there's some threshold of talk time for which a regular plan makes sense. This point applies to those people.
4) most people have cell phones already. Which makes the data plan upsell easier.