A 'Net bet is a good bet

editor's corner

Dan OsheaCount me among the possibly few people who don't think Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt was all that brash for saying that Google TV--or something like it--will be adopted by all TV manufacturers in the next five years. Schmidt has received a lot of negative criticism over the last few days for essentially saying just that to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

Google TV definitely has had problems in the early going, but if the company is serious about getting into the TV sector in some fashion, the version of Google TV we have seen in the last few months certainly is not the final version. Despite the success of companies like Vudu, Hulu and Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX) , the convergence of TV and Internet endavors is still in its infancy. Google has time to refine and, if necessary, completely redefine its Google TV platform.

Also, it is still unclear about how the pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and its STB business could affect Google's TV aspirations, but it certainly makes the Internet giant look well-equipped to make whatever changes it needs to successfully work with TV manufacturers, broadcasters and service providers in the TV ecosystem.

While a lot of attention has been paid to Schmidt's comments to The Globe and Mail, perhaps not enough has been given to the speech he made just before that interview--the MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. In this lengthy speech, Schmidt essentially says to the traditional TV industry, "Don't bet against the Internet."

Right now, not many in the sector are betting against the Internet. They may be trying to control it some ways by applying their own rules and business model expectations to it, but those moves are an attempt to harness the Internet more than they are an attempt to deny it. It is also true that many companies already are investing in hybrid TV-Internet technologies and not necessarily waiting for Google to get its act together.

We may have to wait a few years to find out how Google TV makes out in this market, but it's already becoming clear that vendors, carriers and broadcasters are moving in the right direction.--Dan

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