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Google TV, the company’s software for TVs and set-top boxes, is not toast, despite a weak debut.Several companies are still betting on Google TV and will ship Google TV-powered televisions this year, we hear.
But just as interesting is that other TV makers are skipping Google TV, and are instead just using Google’s Android operating system as the basis for new TVs. These TVs could also ship this year or next year, we hear.
This gives the TV makers what they want — an operating system for next-generation, Internet-connected TVs — without forcing them to necessarily give up any control to Google.
And because Android runs on a bunch of chips, while Google TV currently only runs on Intel-based TVs, Android could be a better fit for many manufacturers, based on cost or component considerations.
This is not necessarily a terrible thing for Google — at least the TV makers are not going with something from Microsoft. But given the company’s hopes to someday monetise Google TV sets through commerce and/or advertising, it’s not great news, either.
Why isn’t everyone just going all-in on Google TV?
Because Google TV doesn’t help sell TVs yet. Consumers aren’t basing their TV purchases on whether they ship with Google’s program guide or app platform. (They may someday, but not now. At most, they just want to get to the Netflix stream.) And Google doesn’t have a sales channel to push these products through.
We’ve long said that the only way for Google TV to become a successful product is if it can become the “Android of the TV industry” — basically the default operating system for most companies’ TVs, the way Android is for smartphones. That may still happen, or it might not. We won’t know for a few years.
In the meantime, there will be plenty of competition. The latest news is that Apple is even supposedly considering licensing some of its software to TV makers. Microsoft will try to be at the table. Meanwhile, at some TV manufacturers, Google is already unintentionally competing with itself, as companies decide whether to bet on Google TV or just hack something together with Android.
If we’re lucky, in a few years, all this experimentation will result in a “smart” TV that’s actually useful.
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