Yesterday at Google I/O, Google announced that they are working on a method of delivering Google content to a user’s TV. They are introducing an AppleTV-like appliance that can be added to existing systems. Even more interestingly, they announced that they have partnered with Sony, Logitech, Intel, and Dish Network. Logitech will build the appliance, Sony will plant the system into their TVs, and Dish Network will build the software into their satellite boxes. Let that sink in for a moment…
The plan is to have the appliance, TVs, and satellite boxes ready for a pre-Christmas launch in order to give it the best possibility of success. Expect a massive conventional marketing campaign from these heavy hitters.
The platform will be based on the Android operating system and come with the Google Chrome browser. YouTube is also in the mix planning on releasing a new product for viewing videos on big screens. Existing Android apps will work on the platform and allow an Android phone to control the system. I expect the functionality will be very similar to the relationship between my iPhone and my AppleTV. GoogleTV will also allow for a wireless keyboard and most. They could make navigating the web on GoogleTV super-easy by introducing a remote similar to the Wii remote.
One of the biggest features – at least to me – is the fact that the GoogleTV appliance will support Flash. That’s a big dig on Apple amid recent controversy over their lack of support for Flash.
Bridging the gap between the internet and the TV has been extremely challenging. Every attempt to blend the two technologies has seen less than enthusiastic adoption. Sony’s Playstation, Microsoft’s XBOX, the AppleTV, all have access to the internet but none of them have gotten it exactly right. The GoogleTV seems to be on the right track. However, it’s unknown if people will leave their computer for the TV to view the internet.
What may hurt proliferation of GoogleTV? Lack of Apps. Adoption might be a little lack-luster, especially if the appliance has a high price tag. It’ll be even worse if there aren’t many apps for the platform. There probably won’t be many apps until late in Q1 of 2011 since the SDK (software developer’s kit) isn’t scheduled for launch until early 2011.
One last point about GoogleTV… If it takes off it’s likely going to put a huge strain on websites. Delivering TV-quality video is no small feat. We may see a resurgence of user-agent based content delivery, not out of malice, but out of necessity. Why would a large video site waste all their bandwidth delivering TV-quality videos and images to every device. Also, why would a site deliver a watered-down experience to every user because the GoogleTV needs to have one mode of navigating the site, pre-selection of expected navigation, and limit vertical scrolling. Sites are going to cloak, and Google’s going to have to be ok with that.