Monday, January 10, 2011

Go Go Google TV Apps - That's What We Need

Content providers have been reluctant to give Google TV access to the sites where they offer full programs for fear of disrupting their over-the-air and cable TV distribution channels.  This is a lot like the iPad situation of 12 months ago: notwithstanding the lack of Flash, it's likely iPads would have been blocked too.

With Apps, however, the opportunity for paid, authenticated users and a customized experience can be presented.  Hulu Plus is already on so many different devices, adding Google TV seems reasonable - and this will further accelerate the trend for cord-cutting on the cable side of the business.

Beyond that, we have not yet seen the "killer app" for Google TV.  For the iPhone, it turned out to be "Apps" in general, but even more specifically, casual games.  Could the same be true of TV?  We'll find out soon enough.

Samsung recently reported that over a million apps have been downloaded for their TV sets (link) so there's clearly demand for some applications in the installed base, though a million apps is a drop in the bucket given the size of Samsung's TV installed base.

Samsung TV Apps, Flickr CC Photo Link to Brent Payne
Why should we expect Google TV to be different?  Because of the ease and simplicity of development. With GoogleTV, a million small experiments in interactive television will be born by developers around the world.  And when they find the one that really transforms the experience of watching TV or genuinely supplements it, a whole new category will be born.

Just about everyone has tried and failed to transform TV.  Most people just want to sit on their butts and watch.  But we should have little faith in the ingenuity of developers and users incoming up with something - they have successfully enriched every other computing and entertainment platform and TV should be no different.

This year at CES, we can expect to see significant new players in the Google TV business, Vizio taking the opening salvo, and that's going to be exciting.  If Google can release an updated version with apps, then we'll start to see real innovations.

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