Why the World Needs Google TV

17 Comments

Google TV will be important, and could be revolutionary — but not for integrating the web into TV. Far more important than its built in browser is Google’s ability to bring apps to the living room — and to even possibly do it at a scale that could lead the app economy on the television.

Google TV isn’t the first platform for app development: Yahoo (s YHOO), Vudu (a WMT), Roku, Boxee and even Samsung created platforms for app development on the TV. But it’s probably the best hope for video publishers who want to conquer what is an extremely fragmented market of walled garden environments.

The big problem for content owners that want to publish video on Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players is not a matter of technology, but a matter of scale. There are tools to build compelling user experiences that can be watched on connected devices, but the market right now is incredibly fragmented. Right now, all of the major consumer electronics manufacturers — Sony (s SNE), Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Vizio — have different user interfaces for accessing over-the-top content. So too, do the Microsoft (s MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 gaming consoles, Roku and (upcoming) Boxee broadband set-top boxes as well as TiVo (S TIVO) DVRs.

If, like Netflix (s NFLX), a video publisher wants to reach multiple devices, it has to strike deals, build a custom UI and integrate with all of those different CE companies, a decision that is extremely expensive — especially when one considers the potential audience for each of their devices. And that’s not even taking into account the number of encoding rules, video formats and file types that are required for all the different devices, or the storage required to support multiple files that can be delivered to all of those devices.

This is one of the reasons that you don’t see broadcasters like ABC (s DIS) or CBS (s CBS) rushing out to develop apps for online video services on TVs, Blu-ray players and other connected devices. Developing for the over-the-top TV market today is akin to developing for the mobile sector years ago, before the market started to standardize on a few distinct operating systems and development platforms like iOS, Android and Blackberry.

But TV apps will soon be big business. Despite only bringing in an estimated $10 million in 2010, the TV app economy is set to grow to $1.9 billion by 2015, according to a forecast by GigaOM Pro (subscription required). Which is why the online video industry needs a company like Google to create an operating system and development platform like Google TV and Android, to make it easier for developers to create a a single app that can be re-used across multiple devices from multiple CE manufacturers.

For each new CE manufacturer that signs on to support Google TV, you add a much larger customer base that developers can reach with a single application. Just as a developer can build an Android app that could be used on an HTC Hero, EVO, Incredible or Droid, the promise of Google TV is one day a developer will be able to write one app and reach Sony, Samsung, LG and Vizio customers all at once.

Of course, Google TV still faces a number of hurdles: For one thing, the company needs to convince other CE manufacturers to adopt its new OS for connected TVs. And early reports are that the system is expensive to implement, due to the processor and dedicated RAM that are required to make it work, which could make the products prohibitively expensive for consumer adoption. But if it is able to succeed, Google TV could help usher in a whole new market for innovative TV apps.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: TV Apps: Evolution from Novelty to Mainstream (subscription required)

17 Comments

Nitin Narang

Google TV is definitely opening a new segment offering with browser capability and flash to bring web to TV. But it is still too early to conclude if Google TV with its baggage of additional cost, current backlash by major studio will move from the domain of early adaptors to mainstream consumers

John Doe

Google TV is compelling for me because it will bring a browser to the tv screen. As a consumer, I don’t know why I need paid apps to get the content I want. I can already find ad-supported content within web pages. Creating an tv app world will limit the consumer and content creators. I can understand why creating this tv paid app ecosystem is good for Google, but how is it good for users and indie content creators?

Monica

Google TV is such a hyped product. There are services out there that do the same thing now. Look at Livetvworldwide (dot) com. You get the channels, content, etc…. All you need to do is plug it in to your TV, which is simple, then watch the programming.

Phoebe

I agree with the observation that Google TV has the potential to introduce a more far-reaching app platform. It might well be these apps – as opposed to Google’s own web-TV integration – that bring true innovation to the TV watching experience.

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cheese

Well, does the world need Google TV, and that too in it’s current form? Let’s look at it from a couple of perspectives.

The TV makers are not exactly falling head-over-heels (yet) for Google TV. Sony, too, hasn’t exactly said that all their USA TVs would sport the G spot. And clearly beyond the USA, there is no GTV (yet). Remember that TVs, unlike mobiles, take time to create, and live a far longer life.

Now, the consumers. A lot has been written about how a Tv viewer is different from a PC/tablet/mobile user. The TV has been about lean-back, consumption. The PC/tablet/mobile is about lean-forward, interactivity. I blogged about it at : http://kadlekai.blogspot.com/ .QED.

Paul Jones

I think the app economy on tv is going to be quite different than the mobile version. The vast majority of revenue will be derived from apps that are directly affiliated with content producers and their content. the apps will facilitate new user subscriptions to exclusive content or content that contains fewer ads rather than apps that provide some sort of mashup. One exception will be with game apps, they will alsomdrivemsignificant revenue.

Shadow Step

If google wants people not to have to switch channels to use Google TV, ie overlay it, they better make sure the Google TV boxes for Europe can decode DVB-T/C signals, since this is mostly done now IN the TVs. If the boxes can’t, people are back to having to change to the “Google TV” channel. (And there are half a billion there, don’t snub that market)

Paul Schneider

The idea of bringing apps from the network “cloud” to the TV is not a Google original. Cablevision and other cable system operators already are creating applications using standard web tools and deploying them on the ActiveVideo CloudTV platform. Here’s an example: http://tinyurl.com/23m6fby

Smith-Chaigneau

The problem is that the TV Manufacturers need to make Pan-European products that requires a unique set of software and since Digital have failed as Broadcasters dont all offer the same Application Software…Not all web access is equal either as ISPs offer their own services per Company. All the experts discussing this assume Broadcasters dont exist anymore…that they have all embraced OTT/Connected TV and that there are complex business scenarios and market differences or anywhere else other than the USA.

R_macdonald

I think Google TV will be seen as a monumental inflection point in the realization of “TV convergence.” Android developers are going to have a field day employing dynamic Linked Data interpolations of TV/Film metadata, calling related internet content, to deliver highly personalized & contextualized extended viewer engagement opportunities.

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