At the risk of making this yet another Google watch site, it did not take long for commentators to join the dots from Google's mobile and social network plays to the mother of them all, TV.
TV, of course, remains the last bastion of traditional linear media with manufacturers only just now starting to build ports to connect screens to the internet. Video on the PC is surging, but apart from the limited few now enjoying IPTV services, internet TV remains a dream.
Still to be sorted is what box will do the connecting--game console, set top box, media PC ? And how the whole navigation and browsing thing will work--remote control, touch screen, key pad? Then of course there is the question of the consumer experience. Microsoft's Web TV experiment proved that whatever works on the the PC (eg. email) does not necessarily work when you are on the sofa with the kids/partner/friends/dog. The reality is we don't really know what works, which means that to date there is virtually no real purpose-built content that everyone can agree will make internet TV worth connecting to.
Enter the friends from Google, who if the Techcrunch blog is to be believed, have a bunch of people on the problem as we speak--well at least the advertising part of it. Using the same model as mobiles and social networks the strategy would be for Google to build a (free) open platform for developers to then hang off their various apps and, of course, for Google to distribute its ads. Put it into a game console, STB or media PC and as long as it real simple to use, voilÃ . Think how iPods made the online music thing work and you get the picture.
Colin Dixon from the Diffusion Group predicts 160 million TVs globally will be internet connected over the next five years (compared with 40 million IPTV connections in the same period) so the prize for getting it right is truly huge.
Yet again it looks like being Microsoft vs. Google as this has been an area where Richmond has long played, albeit in fits and starts and usually embedded as part of a proprietary system, in a telco TV box or soon in Microsoft's own Xbox 360. Stay tuned!
- The Google Set-Top Box (Think Android For TV) Report