Well I hadn’t up until a few weeks ago…did I miss the hype? Whilst researching the new era of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and Internet TV I stumbled across a reference to Google TV. IPTV set-top boxes and Internet Video such as YouTube, Fetch, TIVO, IINET and I-Q Foxtel have been in market for several years, but 3D/HD TV models featuring Internet video access, special Internet TV remotes and downloadable net TV apps are a fresh 2011 release in Australia. So there is Internet TV or Smart TV, but what is Google TV?
After seeing the words ‘Google‘ and ‘TV‘ promisingly co-joined I was immediately curious to know more, not only about the product but primarily regarding it’s release in Australia. How as a regular Googler and online newsreader, could I miss declaration of a surely massive product launch? Eager for insight I began with a Google search using the phrase ‘Google TV‘ to check SEO results or relevant news reports. The search returned good results with the Google TV website ranked top of the search engine, a mass 5,940,000 results appearing in 0.06 seconds. A rank to be expected for a product released by the infamous #1 search engine. Other related product links and several old (mainly 2010) articles pertaining to the product’s release were also ranked above the fold.
The new generation of ‘Google search’ television was launched in the USA in October 2010, however a launch in Australia was announced on hold. In collaboration with Sony the product was released via Sony Internet TV (the first and currently only HD TV offering the software), the Sony Internet TV Blu-ray player and in addition a set-top box release of Google TV through Logitech Revue. The new search technology powering Google TV indexes TV content and applications, basically any data generated within the context of the service. Users can search for Web and TV programs, access their digital video recordings from a keyboard controller, a special remote, or mobile phone applications from Logitech, Google and Samsung, download Google Android apps and record digital content.
So perhaps I was not an avid news reader around October 2010 and missed the hype…
Fast forward though to April 2011 – why have we still not heard of a product release in Australia? Lukewarm reviews in the US by consumers, technological peers and the media since the launch have affected the popularity of the product.
The review notes the US product set-top box was too expensive in comparison to Apple TV, had a clunky search keyboard and needed a hardware and software overhaul to increase product uptake. E-week another tech site (plus several other online reviews) posted similar sentiment in Dec 2010 on why Google TV is failing: 10 Reasons Why.
One of the first ten reasons aptly stated:
1. Where’s the excitement?
“When Google TV was first announced there was palpable excitement around the United States about the potential the software offered…But now that Google TV devices are on store shelves, all that excitement seems to have dissipated, causing some to wonder if it’s actually falling flat” (E-week)
2. The Apple TV influence
3. Consumers know the features aren’t there
4. The apps haven’t arrived
5. Content is king
6. The studios aren’t happy
Major broadcast companies in the US such as ABC, CBC and NBC were loath to embrace the service and blocked content from Google TV view. Google is currently in negotiations with major broadcast companies for advertising rights in the US/UK, and would likely negotiate with Australian broadcasters before entering the market. A plus for Australia if it does attract Google TV is the new national broadband network, which Euromonitor International claims ‘will increase uptake of entertainment services such as IPTV (Internet protocol television) and Internet video, which will in turn create business opportunities for media and advertising companies.’ (Euromonitor International, August 2010)
7. There might be truth in the rumors
Until Google confirms that it’s asking vendors to halt development on their Google TV products, there’s no telling what’s really going on.” (E-week)
8. Google hasn’t been so quick to gloat
9. Progress has been slow
10. Are consumers ready?
The content-streaming market, while growing rapidly, is still in its infancy…Over time, the Google TV platform could be quite worthwhile, but now the question of whether or not it’s ahead of its time must be asked.” (E-week)
Ten interesting points noted in the E-Week article. If Google TV does save itself with product improvements, a release in Australia must educate the market of its capabilities and increase market awareness. Harris Buzz, a Harris Interactive poll survey launched results of consumer awareness of Apple TV and Google TV products in December 2010.
Steve Evens, head of research at Harris Interactive UK indicates one of the issues facing a wider adoption of living room media streaming is awareness and understanding. He suggests that if Apple TV or Google TV are to become mainstream living room technologies and not just for the early adopters then there is a long way to go to educate the market on their products and their benefits.
If you are ahead of the game and have news of a 2011 Australian Google TV release, please feel free to COMMENT.
Apcmag.com, 23rd March 2011, “The real future of TV: How IPTV works”, viewed 16th April 2011, http://apcmag.com/the-real-future-of-tv-how-iptv-works.htm
Cnet.com.au, ” Online TV: how IPTV changes everything”, 18th October 2010, viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.cnet.com.au/online-tv-how-iptv-changes-everything-339306637.htm
Cnet.com.au, “Smart TV killed the ‘idiot box’: Samsung”, 6th April 2011, viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.cnet.com.au/smart-tv-killed-the-idiot-box-samsung-339312752.htm
Euromonitor International, August 2010, Technology, Communications and Media poised to take off in Australia, http://www.euromonitor.com, viewed 16th April 2011
eWeek , Dec 27th 2010, “Google TV Is Failing 10 Reasons Why”, viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Cloud-Computing/Google-TV-Is-Failing-10-Reasons-Why-311306/
Google TV website , viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.googletv.com
Slashgear website, 5th April 2011, viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.slashgear.com/how-google-can-save-google-tv-05144401
Sony website, viewed 16th April 2011, http://www.sony.com
Tech Media Now website, 26 January 2011, Blog: Apple TV & Google TV research – awareness holding back adoption, viewed 16th April 2011, http://techmedianow.blogspot.com/2011/01/apple-tv-google-tv-research-awareness.html
I’m a longtime listener and subscriber of Melbourne community radio station Triple R. I generally tune into regular programs on ‘drive time’, in the car on my way to and from work. Ironically, in the week I began research for this blog critiquing digital media & marketing, I serendipitously drove home late from work after drive time and heard a broadcast I’d not heard before.
Byte Into It was the aptly named show, a weekly technology talk show on Triple R focusing on computer news, reviews, tech talk and opinionated chat with feature interviews and regular guests. 
Intrigued at the novel idea of ‘listening’ to tech news through traditional media in an emerging online world, I listened on. The show was easy listening and announcers sounded well versed on ensuing topics, beginning discussion with the latest ‘tech news’. Reports on the iPad 2 launch (Apple confirmed availability in spite of US shortages), and ViewPad10 Android tablet in Australia quickly synergised into Amazons new app store launch ‘Amazon Appstore for Android’ (US only), with subsequent discussion on Apple’s attempt to deny Amazon that name through a trademark claim on the term “App Store.” Following on news of Mozilla’s Firefox 4 browser launch and the battle of the browsers added to topics of the day…All of interest to an emerging ‘tech head’ of course!
Moving on to broader topics, a more in-depth chat on Internet democracy touched on the severance of Internet connections to Egypt and Libya in the past couple of months, and “what would Australia do if we turned off the Internet?”… I shudder to think! It’s technically unlikely according to the Internet society of Australia (isoc-au). Announcers referred to an ‘isoc-au’ meeting this week that discussed the likelihood (not) of Australia’s Internet disconnection and would it be possible technically, would our democracy allow it? One announcer said it got him thinking “what if it was a targeted attack – could we manage, would it be chaos, would we go to work…how would we organise our bday drinks?” 🙂 Interesting futurist theories proceeded. 
Convergence with new media was naturally (given the subject matter) encouraged throughout the show. Listeners were advised to send feedback through twitter, email or the blog. Interspersed with this were repeated comments of prior discussions had on the show, “all available through podcasts on the blog. The historical references worked for me, on the back of listening to the 1 hour show I subscribed to the weekly podcast via RSS Feed that evening.
What really sparked my interest on the program, was a segment on South by South West (SXSW). A yearly conference festival in Austin Texas (USA) offering the unique convergence (a resounding theme) of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies.
Guest presenter, Keren Flavell  spoke of her experience at the conference attending in particular SXSW Interactive. Keren ascertained it was an “amazing conference that brings together designers, programmers, VC’s (venture capitalists), CEO’s…what sets it apart is that it’s a melting pot of people there because they want to advance the industry…it’s a peak event for people around the world sharing information on interactive media”. Keren Flavell was an eloquent speaker and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her analysis on the varied content presented at SXSW. She also headed a discussion panel at the conference on the ‘growth of open source crisis mapping tools and social media networks…given rise to community driven disaster preparation and response‘, an extremely relevant topic in today’s climate.
Following the show I explored the SXSW website and schedule of events, wishing I could teleport myself back to Texas for the interactive feast that is SXSW. Futurists might say it’s only a matter of time!
There were additional topics of interest about SXSW (and more), so if this post grabs your attention I encourage a listen to the show, and certainly a visit to the SXSW website for a fix on the latest in global interactive. Overall I found it hard to fault the long-running (since 1993) traditional media show, voicing updates from our digital world. I’ll listen to the online weekly podcast…or catch it offline on my drive home!
Till next week,
Melani @ d8