Google TV was a frequent topic of conversation at the Web 2.0 Summit this week.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings provided a very CEO-style answer Nov. 17 when asked what he thought about the Web-meets-TV-surfing service and Apple's own Apple TV streaming service.
He's a good man to ask, though not exactly unbiased; Netflix is a big reason to buy both services.
"Long term, I'm very bullish. Short term, both have product attributes that need to continue to be improved," Hastings said.
He said Apple must open up Apple TV to make it an application platform for developers to write apps for, and he wants to see a browser on it.
Oh, Reed, you mean what Google TV has done already? Chrome drives Google TV apps and Google is releasing an SDK for developers to write apps for the service next year.
But why wouldn't Apple make Apple TV available for development through the App Store? If it's good for the iPhone and iPad, why not another Web-connected box in the living room?
Hastings said Google TV must refine price, a common complaint for a service that starts at $299 from Logitech Revue, and performance. I don't know whether he finds Google TV Search lacking, or the pixellated streaming of his own Netflix app on the service. He didn't specify.
I did get the sense that Hastings prefers Google TV to Apple TV, if only because he named two attributes Google TV has that Apple lacks.
"The idea of having a Web browser on the TV but then adding video services with a custom interface for it I think is very powerful," Hasting said.
Hastings' co-panelist, the venerable media mogul Pete Chernin, said Google and Apple won't be the be all, end all for connected TV, noting that Microsoft, consumer electronics companies and broadband providers will all vie for market share.
I disagree that people shouldn't buy Google TV 1.0.
Yes, it takes a while to set up, but it's very easy to use. If you've spent enough time surfing the Web and searching Google, you should grok TV with minimal learning curve.
I've been an unabashed champion of Google TV since I hooked up the Logitech Revue at home three weeks ago.
Google TV lets me stream Netflix for my family, even if it's a dumb application that you can't manage the way you can Netflix on the PC.
YouTube Leanback is loved by all in my home; hooked up to the surround sound system, it will make for non-stop Christmas songs.
I found 5 different versions of U2's "Running to Stand Still" and if it weren't for Leanback I never would have discovered the original video for U2's "Red Hill Mining Town."
My biggest request: that Leanback enable users to compile music video set lists, but that will contribute to the rampant pirated video already on there.
In short, my family and I don't watch TV without it. It's as native as the TV itself. I challenge anyone to find something with as much functionality on the market at this time.