GoogleTV's launch: Questions and Answers
The battle for your living room is heating up—tomorrow Logitech will unveil its Google TV box and next week Sonyunveils its GoogleTV-enabled sets.
The first question: how much will a GoogleTV box cost? The price has been rumored at north of $200; we'll hear next week how much more expensive TV sets with the newt platform are. The next obvious question: Will people buy them?
So what does GoogleTV do? Imagine having all the apps you could upload to an iPhone on your TV screen and being able to search that content plus all the traditional TV content at the touch of a remote control. Content partners for the GoogleTV platform are betting that additional exposure to consumers will boost traffic.
Turner Broadcasting and HBO Go are customizing their web video sites for the platform. You'll be able to check stocks on a CNBC app , follow game scores on NBA's "Game Time," buy movies from Amazon (AMZN) or stream movies through your Netflix app. And the platform will also give access to news from the New York Times , plus apps from Twitter, Pandora and YouTube.
But notably, none of the TV networks are on board— which means Google TV is additive to, but not a replacement for traditional television. For now at least we can expect consumers to continue to pay their cable and satellite TV bills, even if they get GoogleTV.
Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan estimates it would cost up to $60 to a la carte TV content from Hulu Plus, Netflix and iTunes, plus it's a hassle, and consumers would still miss out on popular content like sporting events.
So for now at least, the likes of Comcast and DirecTV (DTV) don't have to be too concerned about consumers cutting the cord. They *will* have to be worried if the likes of Huluor the networks gets on board the GoogleTV platform.
What about Apple TV? Apple TV convinced ABC and Fox to stream video rentals, but Apple also doesn't have sufficient content to replace traditional television. At $99, Apple TV is cheaper than Google TV's expected to be, but it's also incremental—a way to access more content on demand.
Why is Google getting into this space? Access to consumers in their living room means potentially billions of dollars in TV ad revenue. Will this move the needle for Google any time soon? No, not soon, but it's a foothold in a new area for Google to grow.
What does this do to TiVo, which also gives users access to Netflix Amazon and Pandora from its set-top box? There is overlap between TiVo and GoogleTV's access to what the business calls "over the top" content —i.e. content that comes over the Internet rather than broadcast airwaves.
TiVo CEO Tom Rogers tells me he's seeing more interest than ever from cable companies to partner with TiVo -- they're turning to TiVo to update the TV screens in consumers home. Bottom line: cable companies will step up their game to make sure consumers are getting plenty of Internet content through their cable box, so they don't feel compelled to stop paying their monthly subscription fee.
GE is the parent company of NBC Universal—and CNBC. GE is in talks with Comcast to sell a majority share of NBC Universal to Comcast.
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