Google confirmed recently that its entertainment platform, Google TV, will be made available this fall on several devices, including the Logitech Revue. The company remained relatively tight-lipped on all the details of the products running the software, but it made it clear that it plans to take the Apple TV head-on.
That’s a good thing for consumers. And it’s especially good for those customers that want more than just the simple functionality that Apple’s device will offer. In fact, the new Apple TV will only allow users to stream music from an iOS device. Users can only rent television shows or films on the storage-less product. In other words, the Apple TV is hobbled compared to a Google TV-based device.
Let’s take a look at what makes Google TV so compelling.
1. Web browsing, anyone?
Computers might be the place where most Web browsing goes on, but with the help of the Google TV, users will be able to surf the Internet from the comfort of their couch. Some might not like that idea, since they want to relax at night away from the Web, but others will find value in that. After all, checking IMDb about a particular actor or movie would be much easier with Google TV than being forced to walk into the other room to do that now.
2. The Apple TV won’t cut it
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was quick to point out that the new set-top box is no longer a “hobby” device. But it is. The Apple TV is underpowered, it lacks value to most consumers, and it leaves out far too many features. For the average consumer, it’s a hobbled alternative to a Google TV device. And that won’t be changing anytime soon.
3. Apps galore
When Google announced its entertainment platform, the company said that it would work with Android apps next year. The ability to run applications on a Google TV-equipped device could drastically improve the software’s value proposition. And the average consumer that wants to do more than just rent movies and television shows will be able to achieve that goal with all those extra programs. Plus, Google has encouraged Web companies to create online apps to support Google TV. If they do so, users could find a lot to like with the platform.
4. It’s a new take on an old idea that works well
Home-theater PCs have been available to consumers for a long time. They simply connect to the user’s television, and allow them to consume content on the computer or surf the Web. The HTPC isn’t as popular as, say, a tablet, but it still caters to a niche market that wants that kind of functionality. In essence, Google TV is a software platform that improves upon HTPCs. Plus, it allows companies to offer that kind of functionality for a cheaper price. That should help it attract a wider market.
5. Google knows software
Let’s not forget that Google understands software. It knows what consumers are looking for in a device, it understands what people want when they load up a program, and it goes about achieving its goals. Google TV should be no different. It promises to deliver a viable experience to those that want to do more than just watch television. And since Apple hasn’t come through for consumers, Google seems like the next best bet.
Consumers Are Ready
6. Apple is confused
Apple seems to be confused when it comes to living room entertainment. Steve Jobs said at his company’s event on Sept. 1 that consumers don’t want all the bells and whistles that services like the Google TV offer. Instead, they want simplicity. Apple is certainly providing that simplicity. But by doing so, it’s leaving far too much functionality on the table. It’s a mistake. And it speaks to what little Apple really understands about the living room.
7. Consumers are ready
Consumers weren’t necessarily ready for set-top boxes a few years ago. Bandwidth speeds were too low, content wasn’t all that compelling, and services such as Apple’s iTunes were holding much of the average consumer’s attention. But today, all that has changed. And people are looking for ways to do more in their living rooms. Google has realized that and plans to capitalize.
8. Ubiquity is key
A key component in Google TV is that it will be available on a slew of different devices. In fact, it will be made available on set-top boxes, in televisions and elsewhere. That alone should give Google the upper hand in the space, and drive development for the product. Ubiquity could be Google’s path to success.
9. It can be built into televisions
As folks who currently use services such as Netflix and Pandora on televisions now know, having content built into a television is a fantastic experience. According to Google, its entertainment platform will also be built into televisions. In fact, Sony has already signed on to offer Google TV in one of its sets. That’s good news for Google and it’s even better news for consumers that want to cut the clutter in their entertainment center.
10. The market is there for the taking
The set-top box market is undecided. No single company has been able to attract user attention to dominate that space. Apple hopes to do it with the Apple TV, but the chances of that happening seem slim. It seems far more likely that Google TV will reign supreme. And that will be due in main part to the company’s unique and viable vision.