I ran across this presentation about GoogleTV. It’s interesting. Because it suggests that Google really believes the silly things it said back in May and June. (See some of my prior posts on the topic.)
There’s no way to predict the future of GoogleTV. But I see quite a few red flags in the technology/consumer equation. It’s yet one more set top box we have to juggle. It’s yet one more remote (Google failed to notice that, for consumers, universal remotes don’t work very well for complex devices). And it’s one huge gamble on the idea that they will invent a way to knit together web content and create something that rivals programming. (Doubtful theory at best.)
A bit more concerning is the fact it’s sounding like a TiVO doppleganger – except where TiVO records programming, GoogleTV will depend on the vagaries of what programmers are willing to put up on the web. (Are you willing to bet that all 500 channels of programming will be available for free on the internet? Not for quite a few years.)
The biggest red flag, though, is strategic. Google isn’t doing this because they have a solid vision of how the web and TV come together. Instead, this is all about Google attempting to steal ad dollars away from networks and cable systems. This is apparent later in the presentation because out of the entire document, only one set of bullet points is crystal clear: the ones about advertising dollars.
Of course, if Google steals away these ad dollars, they likely steal away the financial structure that creates the programming we currently enjoy. (And unlimited episodes of Darth Vadar, Night Clerk just really don’t replace 30-Rock for me.) Consumers won’t include that in their consideration when buying a GoogleTV. But it’s clearly evident in network hesitancy to even talk with Google.
Maybe Google will bluster their way through this strategic mistake (a few companies have been able to do that). Or maybe they’ll be saved with consumer wisdom obtained from Sony.
But right now, there’s a fundamental problem: you can’t wish yourself ad revenue. You’ve got to deliver a dramatic consumer advantage. And that’s not yet evident in GoogleTV.
Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett