New Google TV A Threat To Foxtel And TV Stations In Oz

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A smart new TV platform set to be rolled out today by Google in partnership with Intel and Sony could be a major threat to advertising on free-to-air TV stations and Foxtel, as the search company moves to compete with Apple and local TV stations in countries like Australia.

 
Google’s annual conference for developers, Google I/O, starts this morning in the USA amid widespread reports that the company will be spreading its footprint to Internet-enabled televisions.
 
Google, who already own the most-used Web search engine, now want a share of the TV advertising industry, despite research which shows that consumers are listening to less radio and watching less TV than ever before.

The partnership with Sony and Intel will see a new generation of Android software on TV sets and other home-entertainment equipment. This will allow consumers to access a new generation of application as well as Adobe Flash-based video, via their TV, which has to be connected to the Internet. 

Google has said that it aims to expand beyond the online advertising business that makes up almost all its sales, into the TV market. The company is now setting itself up to be a global TV company that will work with production companies to deliver global content. Viewers will be able to watch a show live or stream it to a TV later, direct from a Google server. 

It’s also emerged that Apple is working on a similar concept with the company trialling the delivery of TV content to multiple devices including a TV screen. Apple TV, unveiled in 2007, is a set-top box that lets users access content from the Internet and iTunes and display it on widescreen TVs.

Part of Apple’s challenge may be that it requires consumers to buy a separate box to hook up to their televisions, said Paul Gray, an analyst at researcher DisplaySearch. Google may avoid that setback by including its software directly in the hardware.

“In the end, this is kind of a stealth sale,” Gray said. “The consumer is unaware of what’s going on. It just does it. That’s the way to go.”
 

Ray Valdes, an analyst at Gartner claims that to attract consumers, Google will need to provide a broad variety of easily searchable programming and let viewers chat or post comments about it online, on a single screen in their home.

Google also needs to land content partnerships to make its service attractive to more than just technology-savvy consumers, he said. “They are laying down the first brick in the foundation,” Valdes said. “The brick has to do with hardware and software and geek topics. If they stop there they’re not going to go very far.”

Also set to benefit is Sony who has spent the last 12 months working closely with Google to develop the look and feel of the new TV which will come in a variety of sizes. According to Analysts Sony is banking on the concept to boost their image at a time when the company is struggling to make a profit.

Analysts have told BusinessWeek  that  Google’s prowess in organising information will help it address consumer frustration over slow on-screen guides and search features ill-equipped to handle the multiplicity of channels and ways of getting programming, said Carl Howe and analyst at Yankee Group in Boston.

“In many ways TV has wandered into Google’s space,” Howe said. “You didn’t need search when there were three stations. If you could change channels in a tenth of a second rather than one to two seconds that would attract a lot of people.”

In Australia the roll out of a Google TV concept could hurt Foxtel more than the free to air TV stations particularly if content is delivered free to home TV. 

One Analyst said “Foxtel has a lot of small audiences who watch a multitude of programmes which Google could easily get access to. They will deliver news and current affairs as well as channels similar to what Foxtel have. The big difference is that most of the Google content will be free which Foxtel will still have to charge a subscription fee to viewers”. 

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