I’ve got a kind of “tale of two TVs” today, if that’s not too euphonic for you! The big story at CES may not be tablets after all, but Google TV. And the biggest IPTV success story may be doubling down on their approach, but shifting to Microsoft’s Mediaroom.
Google has tried TV already, and it didn’t exactly work out. The problem with their first attempt was primarily that it wasn’t offering much in terms of a different experience, meaning that at the end of the day you got something like streaming from Netflix or Hulu or Amazon. What they’re now looking to do is to integrate a lot more Android into Google TV, creating a kind of enormous tablet from a flatscreen. It’s not quite that, of course, but the analogy is decent. What I hear is that there will be a host of apps from the Android Marketplace that will run on it, and that these apps will permit not only viewing and information-gathering, which would make the Google TV a direct web portal, but also communications. I’ve also heard that some set manufacturers are looking at introducing a camera, which would take the analogy to the tablet further, and that Google has an app in the works that will allow Android tablet users to sync their tablets to the TV, so touching the screen on the tablet will perform the analogous function on the TV.
All this is interesting given that the reason I hear that Microsoft is getting into Telefonica is that they’re going to do a lot of joint TV app work. Making IPTV a decent profit model isn’t easy since the technology is inherently more expensive than multi-channel TV over CATV cable, but it is fair to say that if there’s a way for IPTV to add value it might be in how it would be better at integrating the online and viewing experience.
That makes these two developments competitors in my view. If IPTV needs to tap the melding of Internet and TV more effectively, then having the TV do that by itself is hardly promoting the right market model. If both these approaches get traction we may be watching the battle, even perhaps the last battle, over whether IP streaming can replace linear RF on any scale.
Interesting to speculate.