Thursday, October 7, 2010

Google TV begins to take shape as US launch becomes imminent

MALAYSIA: With Google TV nearing launch in the US, the company has released details regarding a range of new content partnerships which it hopes will drive consumer interest and boost the potential of its new offering. Through Google TV, Google is seeking to translate its web dominance to the TV set.

Adrian Drozd, Frost & Sullivan’s Principal Analyst, ICT, says: “With Apple and others (notably Yahoo!, and Roku) also focusing on making the connected TV experience a mainstream reality, Google is not alone in its quest, but its scale and focus on bringing users a more integrated TV experience could provide it with a strong competitive advantage.”

Google TV devices from Logitech (a standalone set-top box offering) and Sony (integrated TVs and Blu-ray devices) are expected to launch by the end of the month in the US.

Google TV was announced in May 2010. Moving into the next phase of its development, Google has announced a range of content deals spanning TV-optimised websites, video on demand content and applications – availability of compelling content is essential if the connected TV market is to reach its potential. Announced partnerships include agreements with Turner Broadcasting, Napster, Twitter, HBO, Amazon VOD, Netflix and the NBA – to name but a few.

“However, Google TV does not yet have the support of the major network US TV networks, and will need to focus on making progress in this area over the coming weeks and months to develop a more enticing consumer offering,” notes Drozd. “With a 2011 global launch mooted, Google will also need to extend the scope of its content relationships beyond the US to deliver a localised and relevant experience for consumers in other markets.”

With Apple launching a revised version of its Apple TV device in September, comparisons are bound to be made between the two companies’ connected TV offerings.

“Apple holds the advantage in terms of price ($99, compared to $299 for Logitech’s Revue device), usability and product design. However, the scope of Google TV extends beyond Apple’s proprietary technology and walled garden approach to content provision; its focus is on delivering a software platform that brings together broadcast and Internet based content on the TV set in a seamless manner,” explains Frost & Sullivan’s analyst.

In addition to incorporating a web browser to deliver full access to the Internet, Google TV integrates with the linear TV environment to deliver new opportunities for Google and its partners; notably related to advertising.

Drozd states: “The availability of Android applications is also likely to prove a key advantage – while Apple has not yet made App Store content available via its Apple TV device, Google will launch with a range of apps, which will doubtless grow rapidly as the platform becomes established and more developers create specific content for the TV platform.

“Google’s open approach, already established in the mobile sector, should pay dividends. The ability to search across TV and web based content will also provide differentiation for Google, not just against Apple but other sources of connected TV experiences such as games consoles and hybrid set-top boxes.”

To date, Google has only developed close ties with one pay-TV operator – Dish Network.

“Such relationships will allow Google TV to become a truly integrated service, for example providing the ability to record shows from the Google interface rather than having to switch between this and an operator’s EPG. With usability a vital success factor, more partnerships of this ilk will be necessary, but convincing cable providers that Google TV is an essential addition rather than a competitive threat will remain a key challenge,” concludes Drozd.

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