Thomas Claburn's article on Google TV - He got it wrong
by, 04-27-2011 at 09:50 PM (1493 Views)
I just read this article over on InformationWeek; http://www.informationweek.com/news/...ogle/229402312
Lets just say it got me annoyed. After writing a rather lengthy reply only to find out that IW's commenting system is completely BROKEN (must be their focus on the speed of getting their articles out rather than their excellence), I figured I would post it here.
If you read the article first, my comments in parenthesis will make a little more sense.
I have Google TV (Logitech Revue) as well as Apple TV. One thing that really has been frustrating me lately is the number of articles I see where the authors clearly don't have any real experience with either platform.
Google TV is a fantastic product as it stands right now. Sure, it would have been GREAT if it had an App ecosystem out of the gate, but it certainly doesn't make the platform any less usable. It's a great experience being able to easily search content right from your TV and find out when the shows you are interested in are coming on (via your cable or satellite providers guide data) as well as where the content is otherwise available (Netflix, HBO GO, Epix and more!).
Does it suck that the networks somehow treat the Chrome browser included in Google TV as anything other than a normal web browser? Absolutely. But if you look at the history of our media producing industry, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into almost every bit of technology we use today. VHS, DVD, DVR and now Google TV. The problem isn't that Google gave us a web browser and interface that WORKS on your living room screen, the problem is that the networks are so short sighted that they don't realize they should be looking at ways to increase revenue from the content they already provide over the web.
The networks make it sound as though Google TV somehow rips their content in some nefarious manner. This simply isn't the way it works. You search for a show and if it happens to be available ON THE WEB, provided BY THE NETWORK, Google gives you a result for it. You click on the result and end up going to the network's web page where you can click play, and then maximize the video window just as you would on a PC.
The value-add of Google TV to the networks needs to be realized by the networks themselves. They're looking for a monetary handout from Google to get paid for content they already give out through the same mechanism (web browser) for free if you happen to be on a PC. If I connect my PC to my TV I can do the very same thing that the networks block, simply because of the form factor of the device my browser operates on.
To make matters worse, the networks put up ridiculous messages when they detect the useragent string is coming from a Google TV Chrome browser vs. a Windows or Mac OSX Chrome browser and tell me that my hardware is "incapable of playing this video". They could at least be honest and say "We're blocking you from viewing this video using your current browser because we feel we should get paid extra because you're watching this on a larger screen than we would like".
Stop blaming Google for the content stranglehold and start placing the blame where it belongs. I'm looking at you, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and Viacom.
Here's an amusing part of this... If I use my DVR and record these very same shows, I *ALWAYS* skip through the commercials. But using a browser, the networks have more control and can FORCE you to watch the commercials. That is something that their advertisers should appreciate. When I watch an episode of Fringe on my laptop, I have no choice but to watch said commercials. If anything, the advertisers should be furious with the networks for NOT supporting Google TV and NOT getting their advertisements viewed by the public.
More and more content providers aside from the major networks are connecting to the Google TV platform. As the days tick by and the stubborn networks keep their content away, I'm finding alternative content to view. They're losing MY eyeballs as a result. And let me make this clear; I'm not doing it out of protest. It's just easy and enjoyable.
In regards to Apple TV. The whole product is simply a new consumer wallet designed to funnel your might right to Apple. Don't get me wrong, it's a great device and I use it as a Netflix streamer as well as to stream content purchased through iTunes on my PC to two TVs in my house via the iTunes Home Sharing protocol. But so called tech writers that talk about how Apple is going to kill Google TV should spend a little more than 10 minutes looking at the product.
Example: I was watching an episode of Mythbusters where they were talking about a viral video of some guys running on water. I immediate hit my little picture-in-picture button on my Google TV remote and did a quick search for the video. Google TV found it on Youtube. I paused the live show and watched the viral video they were referencing, then went back and continued watching Mythbusters. For me, this functionality ADDED to the experience of the show as I was easily able to pull up this content and see what they were talking about without having to power up my laptop and watch it on a relatively small screen. It was quick and convenient. THAT is the power of Google TV. If the networks don't want to leverage that technology, it's their loss. Watching Discovery Channel and see something on their show that looks neat? PIP up another Chrome browser and go do some searching or go to the Discovery web site to learn more about the program! Value-add. You don't get this with Apple TV. You just get an easier way to give Apple money and they're loving it. But I'm tied in there too, I bought two movies through iTunes last week because it was just so easy and so well integrated.
What hurts platforms like Google TV is "me too" reporting where little research and proper evaluation was done before going to press. Read a few articles someone else wrote about the platform, MAYBE look at the hardware yourself for 20 minutes, then regurgitate the same ill-formed conclusions back out to the public.