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Is there a tv revolution happening?

October 30, 2011

Could we be looking at the real transformation of TV in the next 24 months with Google and Apple both with big plans?

Google is first out of the gate and just this week made a couple of very big announcements:

1). Unveiling a line up of new channels on the YouTube network which involves partnerships with an interesting mix of celebrities- Madonna, Pharrell Williams, Tony Hawk and others) along with some conventional media players; – The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Freemantle, Hearst) and emergent players like- Demand, The Onion, Radical Media, Cafe Mom and a host of others. Interestingly, the only brand to make it on to YouTube’s list was Red Bull, who we at Influx have argued for years that they were the first brand to build themselves into a media network. Everyone else is just playing catch up to them.

2.) The other announcement of Google was a complete revamp of the Google TV platform, which first time out didn’t do so great.They appear to have learned some lessons and have improved the interface and really have the objective of bringing some of the great content available on the web and phone onto the television set via apps.

 

This is a build on where Google was before, but I am not sure it’s quite enough to disrupt the current model and the incumbents who realized the error of their ways and in the past few years have radically improved the quality of their content.

The big news of the past few weeks have been the leaked plans by Apple to move more aggressively into the TV game.

They’ve been taking baby steps with Apple TV, but now with Steve Jobs telling his biographer Walter Isaacson that he’d “Finally cracked it”, there’s considerable speculation over what Apple has planned.

Obviously, Jobs hinted in the past that he wanted to clean up the television user experience and with iCloud, it’s possible for all kinds of media content to be stored in the cloud and sent to the set. Maybe Siri is the secret sauce to help Apple to make a giant leap forward with the television experience.

This really is the first step to a new era, but just how revolutionary this becomes is all about content and the strength of the bonds between the cable networks and the broadcasters and what exactly Apple plans to do about it.

If it’s about eliminating the cable players and getting as much content up onto iTunes as possible, that will cover a reasonable amount of the programing, but where the broadcast networks have been winning is with live TV and sporting events. To avoid all kinds of hassle for consumers, the ability to view live TV will be essential for the Apple set to succeed.

Google’s approach is radically different, it’s imagining a world with a plethora of new content from new players. It seems the networks aren’t keen to play and Google is having to work around this by stepping up to the plate and building its own network through YouTube. Google’s strategy seems to be about focusing on a group of tech-savvy consumers who are prepared to work through glitches and revisions to get their web content up onto their big screens.

It’s clear the new players will have an impact, but maybe not a revolutionary one.

Apple and Google look to be taking different approaches to the same problem.

Google’s thinking is all about its Android ecosystem and new content from new players and Apple is more singularly focused on bringing it’s superior UI and iTunes ecosystem to the big-screen.

Apple looks on paper to the biggest threat, but Google has a head start being first to really evolve its system, the advantage of a huge installed Android base, great search technology and the on-going development of Google+ (Social TV?), this is not yet a foregone conclusion.

 

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