Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Google TV : Nice but wait for Apple to show its hand with its secret weapon.

I just finished seeing a few iterations of the new Google TV.  One word:  NICE!  I think that a lot of people wondered about the keyboard, but this was revealed to be a small Thumb board that looks relatively comfortable to type on.

Through the literature I have been reading that Google TV may make Apple TV completely irrelevant.  Mmgh?  Well that would be news to a few thousand people who, in the first 24 hours, made the tiny black box a rarity.  And to the many who have ordered the same online only to find a 2 week waiting list with free shipping.

A few people in the know, other than those looking for a Non-Roku way of getting to Netflix due to the fact that they can also get to iTunes, have snapped up the device and made it a rarity in the Apple Store.
Here's Why?  And here's why I think any talk about obsolescence, despite the AppleTV 2's flaws are way overblown:

1.  THE APP STORE!  The Secret weapon that Apple has in its armamentarium is the App store.  With the App store Apple can introduce anything that it wants.  TV mainstream channels that are resisting Apple now can put their own apps in the device.  Can you imagine Comcast putting an app in the store, making available all 800 channels just by segmenting it into an app?  Or Enhanced TV?  The App store can make the Apple TV anything that Apple wants it to be.

Want more proof?  Let's talk about my favorite pet peeve of the mobile Apple devices:  The inability to play more codecs.  I have clamored to have Divx, AVI, MKV a part of the Apple line up.  They have refused.  But there is an App called CineXplayer which will use iTunes to port .AVI files from iTunes into the iPad and play it flawlessly.  There is now also the VLC app which does the same thing.  The official Apple restriction is gone with the entrance of an App.

2.  Airplay !  There is talk that Google already has this, but I could only find it in DLNA.  This is not really the same thing and as I have found with a few friends, DLNA is really buggy and really picky.  It's not as simple as plugging in your computer or device and turning on your Samsung TV and hoping that the TV picks up the signal.  If Apple's Airplay is done correctly, you will be able to stream content from any iOS device, to the AppleTV and automatically have it show up on your TV.   This leaves room for a good hack that will stream an iOS compatible NAS drive to the Apple TV.

3.  Simplicity!  Hard to gauge, but Apple is notorious for making things simple.  It's in their DNA.  It is also that which may separate Google TV from the masses, not to mention the price difference.

I believe that the Google TV will be a hit, but pricing and bundling concerns may make it not so pleasant as it will be branded according to the distributor.  This makes for a less than linear or smooth experience.  But from what I have seen Google TV is a unique take on television and programming.   But as Google shows its hands in this arena, the App store remains Apple's playground to experiment and surprise.  Remember all Apple TV's -be they version 1 or version 2 - have a non consumer useable USB slot.  It's not there for nothing.  The gloves may be coming off for these two tech titans, but I think Apple may have the upper hand.  They have been doing media for a long time and the App store is their Trojan Horse to change.

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