Print 11 comment(s) - last by NellyFromMA.. on Dec 9 at 10:16 AM

Google finally upgrades

When Google TV first came out we had high hopes that Google Inc. (GOOG) would deliver a dynamic product like Android.  Instead, the project imploded leading one partner to ditch the fledgling project.  The fizzle came largely due to the lack of third party apps/an app market.  

Another major factor was the decision by television programming providers to jointly lock Google's device out of their free online TV episodes [1][2][3], accessible on the PC.  While Google could not have changed this directly, it took the blow of the blockade lying down, declining to air workarounds to spoof the sites into believing they were dealing with a PC and delivering content.

I. Google Promises TV Dominance in 2012

But at the LeWeb 2011 Conference in Paris, France, Google's former CEO and current executive chairman, Eric Schmidt claims that by the end of 2012 Google TV will be on "most" TVs.

He comments, "By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded in it."

If Google can pull that off it'd perhaps be the tech market's comeback story of the year.

To accomplish that Google would have to win over one, if not two of the other top players in the Smart TV market -- Sharp Corp. (TYO:6753), Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930), and LG Electronics, Inc. (KS:066570).  Currently those three players rely on their own in-house solutions -- some of which have app markets.  Google's TV build of Android is currently only the solution of choice of Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), who, at most, ranks as high as third in market share in its best sections of the television market.

It's not infeasible that Google could cajole Samsung and/or LG into adopting its operating system with the proper financial incentives, but it would likely have to deliver both cash and a far more polished product.  In some regards Google's current Smart TV OS trails that of Samsung and LG -- particularly in apps (Samsung has delivered over 1,000 third party apps, alone).  Samsung, at least, is rumored to be in talks to adopt Google TV.

Along-side Mr. Schmidt's presentation on Tuesday, Google took a big step forward by finally rolling out access to the Android App Market opening the door to a wide selection of third party apps.  It also recently added exclusive access to Google Music, Google's online storage locker that allows you to upload 20,000 songs.

Google TV apps

Despite these improvements, it's still fair to adopt a skeptical wait and see attitude regarding Google's claims of market domination in the new year.

II. Android -- "Ahead of the iPhone... in Volume... Prices"

Mr. Schmidt also sounded off on Google's deficit in active developers, versus its chief competitor Apple, Inc. (AAPL).

While Google is drastically outselling Apple, although its growing sales lead has been briefly put on hold by the emergence of the latest and greatest iPhone, the iPhone 4s.  Still, despite having almost twice Apple's global market share, Google has fewer apps and developers.  The latest November numbers [1][2] from Distimo, a web research firm reports 352,000 apps in the Android market, versus 450,000 for Apple.

But Google appears to be closing that gap, both in raw numbers and in developer sentiment (ex.: see Business Insider's "Even For An Apple Fanboy, Developing For Android Is A Must").  But among top providers, though, Android still has a ways to go before it's considered the platform of choice.

Mr. Schmidt says developers will come around.  After all, Android's new operating system (Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich") will lead Apple's offerings in nearly every single way, he argues.  He states, "What kind of lead? Android is ahead of the iPhone now - by unit volume, with ICS features, prices are lower, with more vendors, more price points - do I need to continue the list? It's free."

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt at LeWeb 2011 [Image Source: CNET]

He states, "Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favored by the open approach Google is taking.  There are so many manufacturers working so hard to distribute Android phones globally that whether you like ICS or not--and again I like it a great deal--you will want to develop for that platform, and perhaps even first."

Indeed this argument seems plausible -- less than a year ago Apple apps outnumbered Android ones two-to-one; today that lead has shrunk and Apple only has around 30 percent more apps, by most estimates.

As to Apple's accusations that Google is riding on its coattails, stealing the look and feel of its operating system, he retorts, "Android was founded before the iPhone was."

This is technically true, Android was founded in 2003, purchased by Google in 2005 and had a working OS prototype well before Apple.  Of course both Apple and Google borrowed liberally from Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) and others in their use of application grids, etc.

Mr. Schmidt did not comment on the dark horse in the race, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).  While Apple is clearly the biggest danger to Google's mobile supremacy at present, Microsoft presents perhaps the biggest long-term danger, because like Google it uses the tried and true third party hardware approach.  Microsoft has managed to botch things up to the point where it gets more revenue from licensing its patents to Android than it gets from Windows Phone.  

But it seems inevitable that Microsoft will eventually parlay its polished product into sales, assuming it keeps investing to stay on the cutting edge of GUI and mobile OS design.

Source: Paid Content

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Stop building crap into TVs
By kleinma on 12/8/2011 12:57:23 PM , Rating: 3
I don't want my TV loaded up with a bunch of 3rd party crap that adds cost to the unit, while increasing complexity and usually leaving me with a bunch of outdated services that end up getting discontinued anyway.

TVs should be monitors, just like PC monitors. If I want google TV or some other service, let me get it via a PC or STB attached to the TV. Just because google TV will be in most TVs, does not mean it will dominate, or even be a good thing to have. Perhaps they need to create an open standard for TV plugins, instead of each implementation being some proprietary thing.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By MeesterNid on 12/8/2011 1:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on most points. Plus there is already a universal TV plugin systems, it's called the video/audio input.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By MGSsancho on 12/8/2011 1:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I just want a powerful enough device to play all my rips, media and downloads. ps3 and 360 can still do this if they pull their heads from their rears. meanwhile devices and various popcorn hours still do not cut it. sure netflix is cool so is flickr and picasa but other than that, no third party apps please.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By PrezWeezy on 12/8/2011 1:40:28 PM , Rating: 2
If you have a Win 7 PC with Home Premium up, you can use MyMovies to add your rips to Media Center and then stream them to the 360. Works really well actually. (Vista works as well)

By HoosierEngineer5 on 12/8/2011 1:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
Google bought up SageTV earlier in the year which provided just this functionality. There has been no word since them. I fear they bought them simply to crush and throw away.

On the other hand, perhaps they have something in the wings...

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By Arsynic on 12/8/2011 2:42:28 PM , Rating: 2
Norton Antivirus for TVs...

Keep the computer out of my TV!

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By Solandri on 12/8/2011 5:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that's the better solution for the technophile who knows how to put together a HTPC. But for the vast majority of people who don't know how to do that, having the HTPC built into their TV makes sense.

TVs should be monitors, just like PC monitors.
PC monitors get an unencrypted, uncompressed digital video signal. TVs stopped being just plain monitors when we switched to digital broadcasts (they need to have a computer on board to decompress the digital signal into a picture), and when the entertainment industry foisted HDMI/HDCP upon us (computer needed for the decryption/encryption). They are already combination computer-monitors. So since the computer is already there, it makes sense to improve its software capability.

The long-term direction this is heading is having your movie collection stored on a media server which the TV accesses over the network, instead of on your bookshelf in the form of DVD or Blu-ray discs. If you accept that that is inevitable, then you must also accept that there has to be a HTPC connected to the TV. At which point it you might as well combine the HTPC with the TV for the average person.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By Paj on 12/9/2011 7:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
Yep. What the tech savvy person needs often runs counter to waht the market wants, and what will sell well.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By JNo on 12/8/2011 7:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
"I don't want my TV loaded up with a bunch of 3rd party crap that adds cost to the unit, while increasing complexity... TVs should be monitors, just like PC monitors."

I used to think the same think about phones, even until a while after the iphone 3GS was released (and I'm a tech geek like most here). I finally caved and got an android smartphone and am now converted. Yes I do find it unsettling that my phone, so useful in emergencies, can 'crash' (+ has sh1t battery life). But the benefits somehow outweigh the negatives (eg syncing contacts to the cloud).

Part of me agrees with your sentiment but TVs are going to become smarter whether we like it or not. My Panasonic TV already has iPlayer installed as an automatic satellite upgrade. And I really wouldn't mind at least having the *option* of reading web pages on my TV without having to plug in a phone/tablet/laptop/media box.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By cmdrdredd on 12/8/2011 9:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, and who wants to constantly get messages for updates for your TV when you're watching something? I get too many updates for apps I never use on my Phone, things I can't even uninstall. Screw all that.

RE: Stop building crap into TVs
By NellyFromMA on 12/9/2011 10:16:06 AM , Rating: 1
I simply must have the most insecure mobile operating system embedded into my TV... wait, why again? So Google can amass more data about things I like and don't like and then sell my information? And oh, btw, that very information actually will have a new avenue to be stolen now. Thanks, but no thanks.... I'll pass...

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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