Google TV on the Cusp

written by: Richard Kastelein

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by Richard Kastelein & Gianluigi Cuccureddu

Yes, what it will do at least, is shake up the TV industry and get them out of their “Walled Gardens”, and actively look for business model innovations.  Google has the potential, reach and money to penetrate the market with more than just a shake up. It will likely be cataclysmic… and they will truly launch the concept of Social and Connected TV into the Zeitgeist by 2011.

The rumour mill has once again ground out another flutter of gossip about Google going into the TV market – but still – nobody will go on record. This time it’s about when they will release their official foray into this space.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that:

Google Inc. is planning to introduce Android-based television software to developers at an event in May, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google is headhunting for developers in this space, which validates the buzz.

Android and Chrome both have substantial development communities, but it will likely take some time before investments are made from software developers – and it will come when Google can show a critical mass adaption. Until now, Yahoo Connected TV has been leading in this space, but interest in their Widget Development Kit (WDK) is rather tepid. Google TV’s future development kit (likely based on Android and Chrome),  won’t likely be wide open, but will surely be more flexible and malleable than Yahoo’s.

But other news on Google TV recently came with a report from the  Korean Herald,  who published an article about a possible marriage between the world’s leading TV manufacturer, Samsung, and Google TV. In other words, Samsung, who is already tied to Yahoo Connected TV is considering cutting another deal with Google and building CE devices with Android architecture.

Yahoo won’t be happy if this pans out – but they don’t seem to be able to develop much traction in attracting developers to this space, nor creating enough buzz about Social TV, TV Apps, Widgets etc.

Will hardware manufacturers lose their control? They might, if they don’t play ball, Google just might start producing TV’s themselves.


According to a quote from the same Korean Herald article

Chun Seung-hoon, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities, said Samsung’s Google TV is plausible, given that Google’s Android is an open platform. “There is no problem for Samsung to produce Google TVs,” he said. However, he said the hardware manufacturer faces the risk of losing its control over the TV market to Google, a software firm, should it make Google TVs. “This is not a good picture. I think it would be better for Samsung to expand its own platform Bada,“ he said.

Google’s perspective is from the software side, manufacturers is from the hardware perspective, and a complementary growth strategy for both sides is more plausible.

Expansion of its own mobile development platform Bada – Samsung could perhaps itself  head towards their own Social TV development and make a play for both a two screen and one screen experience.  People’s demand in the end is what will make or break a Walled Garden, in this case Bada, which already has an ample app store.

Already mentioned in one of my earlier analysis Television 2.0’s foremost challenge is… , consumer control and attention are essential in understanding the coming paradigm TV shift.

In the end, all that people want is any content at their time, on their screen when they’re in the mood. Creating a battle between open systems, from any kind of manufacturer, is a risk for growth strategies and revenue streams.

Going from the platform to the actual content consumption which will be enabled by Google Android TV, it will be interesting to see how this will develop and evolve.
On NewTeeVee, researcher Marie-José Montpetit at MIT’s Research Lab for Electronics, says that Social TV doesn’t mean a cluttering of content and widgets on the TV screen.

Google has the resources to analyse this in-depth, create understanding how the new television experience could be enhanced in appropriate ways, not a simple centralisation of different content on a screen.

There’s more than enough landscape on the next generation of TV’s to allow for optional widgets to be popped in and out, and if sized correctly,  a single screen experience can work. The widgets, from a design perspective, can and should be optional and can and should be designed to be part of the overall TV experience, if planned well. If they can get the Interactive Design down pat – getting ‘social’ on one screen can work. There are many examples of websites that have this kind of alternative.  Our blog has an optional widget for Twitter that can be pulled out and retracted quite nicely 0n the bottom right.

Here again the ultimate quest is to provide users control to gain their attention which will lead to -new- revenue models.

Apps/Widgets have been said to be the new Cash Cow generators for the digitized ubiquity, the syndication of content and the consumption of it. If Google and the industry will be able to go forth in the evolution of television and the experience, conventional revenue models could be proven not to be the only valid ones.

What do you think, will Google be able to get movement in this cumbersome sector?

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