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When Google announced its fledgling Google TV platform last week, the first thing that sprang to mind was Nice. Google TV is going to be fantastic for Apple lovers. Why? Because Google and its supporting cast of industry players like Sony, Logitech, and Dish Network may finally be the competitive catalyst that can jab Apple with a stick and incite the company to innovate for the living room once again. Sure, the company has the somewhat successful Apple TV, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously downplayed the device to "hobby" status.
I'll say it right now AppleTV is a wonderful product but it needs some love soon. The real problem is content and the content providers. Apple continues to call this a hobby because they can't secure the deals necessary to make it more than that and Google has the same problem as is evidence by HULU on the new 2.2 OS.
Notice that HULU was not one of the partners for this project, nor was ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX etc. This is the real problem and I hope Apple is finally close to selling enough shows that the networks are ready to talk. But regardless (or maybe even because they haven't talked) it is time for Apple to throw down the gauntlet, which really only has to mean one thing.
Open a new AppleTV to developers via the AppStore. Sure, it can be 1080p and have a larger hard drive and act as an iTunes media hub, but let it run the iPhone OS and give it access to all of the current Application. This is what is exciting about GoogleTV and it is what Apple needs to do to step up it's game.
1) Google makes its money from advertising. Android will be free. Costs by the manufacturer to modify it to work with their TV or network will not. WiFi will also increase the price.
2) Google WILL introduce ads while using their search. If you love that, then great.
3) Google WILL track all your TV watching behavior and share it with third party advertisers.
4) A set top web browser is next to useless. Apps will be the way things work.
From Daniel Eran Dilger:
"Apple TV and Google TV have little in common; the former is Apple’s hardware-oriented placeholder designed to port iTunes content to the living room TV, while Google’s effort is an attempt to put a layer of software into hardware makers’ TV products so that Google can sell ad space somewhere else other than the saturated PC desktop it already pretty much monopolizes."
Great points, DannoBonano. I'm definitely interested to see how the costs shake out in overall practice. If Logitech's device is $250, for instance, that's a big yawn (though the entire Google TV ecosystem may still prompt Apple to invest more in the living room). Plus, the online rights for professional content is still a mitigating factor. Right now, I'm about half and half when I miss an episode of a favorite show: half the time I buy it from iTunes and half the time I fight through the low resolution, occasional hiccup, or bad ad on Hulu or CBS.com, etc.
TV/video ads are sometimes useful, sometimes tolerable, and sometimes terrible. But ad tolerance often comes into play around a watcher's budget and willingness to spend on video entertainment. The great thing about over-the-air TV is that it's free.
A set top web browser -- there's definitely some resolution challenges for many flat screens here, but I don't think next to useless. Light browsing, watching, email catchup . . . kind of handy when you want to sit on the couch.
Dilger's quote is a fantastic skewer, by the way, thanks for sharing it!
Either way, I think Google TV is still a possible catalyst that will help encourage Apple to reinvigorate its better ways.