Google Tries TV

After it got finished mucking around with social networking (although I’m sure that story is far from over), Google decided it was time to get into an arena into which it has never gone before – television. In partnership with another newcomer to TV land, Intel, and Sony, Google TV will bring the web to television sets through new TVs and set top boxes.  The NY Times reports that this service could be in place as soon as this summer, when Logitech comes up with the peripheral devices that will make the whole thing possible. In addition, it is partnering with Dish Network to test a TV search service.  So Google will take it upon itself to master the convergence of the Internet and TV, an idea that has been gaining ground very slowly.  A study by Leichtman Research Group shows that slightly less than a quarter of US homes have some kind of web-to-TV connection and only 5% of adults watch Hulu or YouTube videos on the bigger screen. And the majority of those people are younger males who have some connection through gaming consoles.  Bruce Leichtman says,

Despite speculation that consumers are “cutting the cord” to cable, satellite or Telco video services and choosing to watch video exclusively online or through other alternatives, there remains little evidence of this being a trend. Emerging video services do not necessarily create either/or scenarios in decisions to subscribe to a video service or not. Rather, they create opportunities and trade-offs in how, when, what, and where to consume the increasing video entertainment options.

Still, Google TV faces a lot of competition in the web to TV space: Roku, Boxee, TiVo and Netflix, among other companies, are there already. TiVo meanwhile,  recently unveiled a new set-top box that is built on an Adobe flash platform (which means app development) and can store  up to 400 hours of standard programming or 45 hours of HS. TiVo is hoping that this new box will bring back the subscribers who are leaving it (it lost almost a million of them in the last quarter, from last year’s subscriber figures).

To add a bit of fuel to the web-to-TV debate (did you know it was a debate?  I didn’t) Mark Cuban of Blog Maverick and Avner Ronen of Boxee indulged in dueling blog posts about the future of TV following a discussion that they had at the South by Southwest Interactive conference.  In case you don’t want to read either or both posts, here is the gist: Cuban – don’t waste the Internet on TV; Ronen —  Internet on TV is inevitable.

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