Google TV - To be Announced this Week at Google’s I/O conference

written by: Richard Kastelein

Google TVBoth the Financial Times (FT) and the UK Times covered the upcoming Google TV launch today, expected to be announced at Google’s I/O conference on May 19th, in San Francisco. The techology is allegedly powered by Android and Intel's chips, and will make Sony televisions and even Blu-ray DVD players function like computers, running Google's search, Chrome Web browser, YouTube and other programs. The future of TV apps and TV widgets looks even more promising today. The FT reported last week that talk of the marriage of Google and Intel will create a “Smart TV” platform which will “... be the biggest single change in television since it went colour” according to Intel CEO Paul Otellini.

But let me give you the other side before I get started. Because it's not all rose coloured glasses. Jeremy Toeman of Live Digitally has written a hard critique of Google TV even getting any traction - noting the failure of Apple TV.

Most of the failure is due to deeply entrenched systems heavily controlled by huge corporations with little interest or need to innovate.  While we can yell and scream about how bad a job the Cable/Satellite companies are doing at future planning, the blunt reality is it’s hard to argue that it’s necessitated.  These megacorporations can drag their feet, and deploy mediocre DVRs and HD services, and consumers (for the most part) are satisfied with their experiences.  Further, due to their current business structures, the concept of opening up the market to third-party devices, content, services, or applications is not just daunting, but likely unprofitable.

...Now with all that said, I’m truly excited about the future of converged entertainment in (and out) of the home. I remain mostly cynical about seeing any real change anytime soon.  I think there are a few companies who have built the right foundation to make some inroads, but I’m hoping everyone involved is prepared to win their “realist” and “slow and steady wins the race”  badges over the next few years-to-decade (or longer).  Can Google be the catalyst of change, or will they just be the next in the long list of companies who tried and missed the mark?

He has some great points - and the experience in the IPTV space to back it up. But he's not looking at Social Media in any context in this convergence. Not thinking about the 400 million people on Facebook (social media) and the 70 million people playing Farmville (social gaming) or the rise of Twitter (microblogging) which were simply not players in the past. Social TV will not be the 'one' element that helps define the future of connected TV, but it sure adds another angle on the liklihood of Google TV and other platforms (Boxee, Roku, HbbTV, Canvas, et al) of succeeding. He's not looking at the surveys which show that seventy per cent of sports fans and 55% of drama viewers said they want to interact with TV or new forecasts from ABI Research, the estimated 19 percent of flat-panel TVs shipping with Ethernet in 2010 will grow to 46 percent in 2013, and connectivity is expected to become a mainstream feature with iSuppli reporting 60 Percent of Consumers Want Internet-Connected TV. Even right now 24% Of US Households Have some form of TV Connected To The Internet .

Let me draw a parallel with the recording industry because I think, unlike Jeremy, that the glove is on the other hand and it's the broadcasting world that is going to have to innovate... fast or they may find themselves in the same boat.

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Record Labels used to fund new acts. In the past, everyone in the glorious music daisy chain, relied on them to fund the future and spend the bucks bringing acts to the public. Everybody loved to hate them. They were the 'huge corporations with little interest or need to innovate', that Jeremy is talking about.

And now that they have been body slammed due to p2p, and the subsequent decline in recorded music sales, they are not scouting and nurturing nearly as many young, new bands as they did ten years ago.

Both the Live music industry and the recorded music industry are trying to figure out how to keep their bread and butter on the table in the future, because without those 'superstars' they build, fund and put out into the market, no one makes money.... not the labels, the promoters, the publisher, the managers, the agents etc. Live is doing fine, because concerts are the only way the A-list acts can make money anymore. No more Steely Dan scenarios of doing studio time and forgoing touring. It's not possible anymore.

Music is niching now - bands are breaking themselves via Youtube and other online media. Less fans per act, more acts. The public is listening to a lot more genres then they did 20 years ago. Music has fragmented. And so will TV.

The Internet has been disruptive to many traditional industries in many ways. That's a fact. And the traditional broadcasting world will have to face that fact and find a way to adapt and find creative solutions such as Jobs did for recorded music with iTunes.

Though I have been kicking around the TV scene in Europe for a few years - essentially, I am coming to the TV side of media convergence from the web. We look at design a bit differently than the broadcast world. We know and understand the dynamics of social media and truly have a deeper understanding of Interactive architecture.

Companies like Liberty Media Europe will fail in their quest to bring convergence. Why? Because they think that they can tie down their code... locked down, proprietary, closed. They don't want outside developers. They won't loosen up and therefore, they don't have a chance.

And that's why Google will succeed. They have more brand juice than Boxee or Roku in the US. They have the deep pockets. They have the relationships with Sony, Logitech, Intel and probably Samsung. If anyone is going to make a dent, it will be them.

An interesting sidenote - Android also supports Flash and Adobe which Apple does not.. This could have an impact far beyond the mobile development community, as Google and Adobe will force the issues raised by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his "Thoughts on Flash" letter by seeing what the TV market thinks of Flash in TV apps and TV widgets. That may not come until later in the summer when Android 2.2 devices ship with Flash, but this event sets the stage. Apple and Adobe are currently involved in war of words, and Adobe's relationship with Google and Android is not going to help Apple's TV plans. The Mac community is even proclaiming Apple TV already.

Perhaps Apple should've spent a little more time playing with its "hobby" project. On to the Kudos.

Very Promising, pens Sam Diaz at ZDNet:

"Linking Web content and traditional TV programming into a searchable database for viewing is a smart idea. Eventually, TV programming will be funneled through the Internet instead of cable and satellite systems. Viewers will need a way to not only find programming but discover new ones, as well. I imagine search will be one of those new ways of discovering programming."

May Succeed Where Others Have Failed, writes Jessica Vascellaro at The Wall Street Journal:

"Previous efforts to access Internet programming on TV sets have failed to catch on, partly because they required consumers to purchase extra hardware. By working directly with an operator like Dish and its hardware, Google could avoid the such issues."

Richard Kastelein is o-founder of and CEO of Agora Media.

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About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.


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