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Will Google or Apple Win the War for Your Living Room?

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There's a war on the horizon to invade your living room. The main marauders will be none other than Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , aiming to pillage the plunders of current inhabitants like Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) , AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , and DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH  ) .

Big G and Cupertino are undoubtedly arming their forces as we speak, although their flanking strategies will differ. Apple will predictably go with a fully integrated approach like an Apple TV set, which CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) CEO Les Moonves practically confirmed has been in the works when he accidentally dropped an interesting tidbit during a recent conference call that his company had turned down an ad-based content deal with Apple over the ad-splitting terms.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is prepping its foray into the paid-cable-TV service market. The company previously announced a project to offer high-speed Internet service, starting in Kansas City. Kan., and its neighboring city in Missouri.

The gigabit fiber network would have 10 times the potential speed capabilities of current networks, and throwing in phone, courtesy of Google Voice, and TV service would round out the offering to compete with AT&T Uverse, Time Warner's Road Runner, or Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) FiOS, for starters. It could also displace satellite-TV service providers such as DISH Network and DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV  ) .

Google is supposedly in talks with media titans such as Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) , and Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA  ) to bring their respective channels onboard, although the talks are still in the early stages, with nothing set in stone.

Google's been trying to upgrade YouTube into a premium offering for a while, and it would probably play a role in the encore after the initial failed attempt. Don't forget that soon-to-be subsidiary Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) is a huge player in the set-top0box market to leverage.

Google has all the pieces of the puzzle lined up; the real question is whether it can stitch them all together into a cohesive and compelling value proposition to all the interested parties. It's a massive $150 billion industry to disrupt, when you include all the spending from advertisers and monthly fees that consumers fork over.

It will have to somehow juggle the interests of content providers, advertisers, and consumers while the incumbents fight with all their might to maintain the status quo, all while Apple gears up its own advances.

The battle will be bloody, and there will be casualties. Who do you think will win? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Add Google and Apple to your Watchlist to see who wins this war.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Walt Disney, Apple, and AT&T, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Walt Disney, and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 07, 2011, at 11:16 PM, pmart wrote:

    I wouldn't count Microsoft out of this fight. Xbox TV will launch later year and already has the support of a lot of the big TV providers. The xbox 360's large install base has to count for something since xbox owners can get access TV content without having to purchase new hardware. These are small advantages, but I wouldn't ignore them.


  • Report this Comment On November 07, 2011, at 11:36 PM, ConstableOdo wrote:

    Google has a better chance of winning the race to the living room because Google is willing to do anything to get there first. Google will buy companies if it needs to and integrate them. I don't think they even care if they try and screw up. They'll just regroup and try again. Google also doesn't mind spending money to get what it needs. It's an aggressive company unlike Apple which is happy to sit back and take its time developing its own pieces to the puzzle. Google plays the game the way Wall Street likes it to be played. Fast and aggressive.

    I don't believe that either Google or Apple will be a big winner, though. The network and cable companies like things the way they are so they can reap the most money possible.

  • Report this Comment On November 07, 2011, at 11:38 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:

    Good point, Microsoft definitely has some weight and could probably ink some content deals. Although I'd still have my doubts about using a gaming system for TV content, not because it doesn't make sense, but simply because I can't imagine using my PS3 for TV content, as much as Sony tries to sell me stuff through the PS store.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On November 08, 2011, at 10:27 AM, mdtopper wrote:


    Will they buy entire cable companys? I doubt it. But they will need to get access to every home in the country and that wont be cheap.

  • Report this Comment On November 08, 2011, at 10:32 AM, mdtopper wrote:

    That said, I have Sony Blu Ray players with Google TV and I like the way they present all the content (traditional TV, internet, Netflix, Amazon, etc as well as the option to play my own discs) in one seemless system.

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2011, at 12:18 PM, akakroke wrote:

    I wonder where the DPUC will be in all of this....

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