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Google TV not taken seriously - yet

By PETER WHITE

Published: 3 November, 2011

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Google TV is now officially a joke. Have a good laugh now because later it may be taking over the TV world. This week Google talked about version 2.0 of the joke. But actually poor old Google was universally slammed by critics for not much more than the core idea - an open web browser on a TV interface that could help you find some great content if many of the major US content owners hadn't blocked the device from accessing their web sites.

Almost every review we read was about lack of content, not lack of function, and Google TV 2.0, as a software download based on Android 3.1 (rather than 2.2), has systematically addressed many of the problems that beset the original version. But a lot of water has flowed under the Google bridge since that launch, and what with Apple and Microsoft patent rows, legal actions against Android tablet makers and the death of Steve Jobs attracting yet still more fanatical Apple loyalty, what once was a feared aspect of Google's strategy is now being laughed at by all reviewers.

In the long run it is anybody's guess how Google proceeds. Content owners have to be aware that they need Google so that content can display on tablets which are not iPads, or else, like the music labels, they will end up fodder for the Apple profit engine.

But any concessions which Google could achieve by de-emphasizing YouTube in favor of traditional TV content, has been ruined by the fact that Google plans to use YouTube to create 100 TV channels. Somehow Google has to get the content businesses on its side, but so far this has not happened and with 100 TV channels, it's not likely to earn any more friends quickly.

Everyone agrees that the UI is far better as a single overlay bar of icons, the unified search works this time and is easier to access. There are some apps finally, and the bar provides a natural navigation path to the most frequently used apps and the new key features of TV, Movies, YouTube and browser. The system runs faster, and new hardware is coming, some promised from Samsung and Vizio and unannounced partners. These no longer need to be driven by an Intel chip, which means that ARM based dual and quad core devices will be part of the mix, which will drive HTML 5.0 more effectively.

Google 2.0 still seems to only like a minimal subset of files, like MPEG2 and AVI, rather than the full suite of internet video content formats, and these have to be served from a DLNA server, and no other source. One key problem remains the fact that website held video can still be slow

Google has added proper bookmarks to the browser, pages load quicker, but right now most content comes from Netflix, Amazon, Youtube , Hulu, ABC.com and NBC.com which is perhaps not enough for Google's Over The Top hungry US fans who want Viacom and CBS content too.

Google's announcement was overshadowed by the vapourware of speculation around Apple's impending TV launch expected sometime next year, which has been pitched as Steve Job's final legacy, since he is said to have claimed to have solved the riddle of the connected TV shortly before he died.

For a full analysis of this subject go to www.rethinkresearch.biz/faultine and order this week's Faultline issue.

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