Will Google Win the Battle for Your TV?

Purchase of Green Throttle Games assets may signal that the Internet giant wants to turn up the volume on Apple and Amazon in TV land.

Mar 26, 2014 at 7:00PM

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) recently confirmed that it plans to scoop up assets of the former Green Throttle Games, which ceased operations at the end of 2013. Will the Internet giant use this acquisition to gain more of a foothold in TV besides its Chromecast product? Will shareholders benefit? Should investors of competitors such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) worry?

Gaming the system
Green Throttle was a maker of Android-based video games, but it is possible that technology developed for game controllers could be adapted to interface external displays with smart devices.

Google derives a significant portion of its success from its top-of-the-line web search algorithms, but recognizes that a real risk exists, as social networks like Facebook and Twitter make headway into the information retrieval business. Ad revenue could be adversely affected, so the company is probably looking to diversify more with TV hardware.

The company has attempted this in the past by developing products like Google+, driverless cars, Google Glass, fiberoptic network services, and blimps that provide wireless access to rural areas. However, none of these things have taken off, yet. Maybe TV could be the answer, but will it be successful like Google Search, or will it be more like the lackluster performance of the former Motorola division? Google recently sold Motorola after acquiring it only a few years earlier. The smartphone business had suffered operating losses and didn't dent the market that much.

Any application of game technology in the TV business probably won't move the needle for Google shareholders, at least not in the short term.

TV everywhere
Apple is already "experienced" in the TV business. It has had a set-top box, Apple TV, for a number of years, and although the company currently derives less than 1% of revenue from its sales, CEO Tim Cook recently indicated that it will become more important going forward. Has the company really cracked the code for Internet-based TV, as the late Steve Jobs said? Apple will be looking to build upon its position, more than 50% of the bundled streaming market, for TV access through smart devices.

The company needs another surefire product to offset any negative impact if growth from its primary cash cows, iPhone and iPad, plateaus, as some analysts predict. If expanding into China is not as lucrative as expected, a new product becomes even more important.

The bottom line is that Apple investors would benefit if the company succeeds in TV.

Amazonian TV
E-commerce and web services provider Amazon intends to foray into the TV business, too, using a device that looks a lot like a game controller, but will probably be configured to interface with Amazon's digital content and online ordering systems.

Will Amazon have better luck with TV than with other media? Kindle was also a means for Amazon to spread its content. However, the device has, so far, failed to penetrate the tablet market, garnering only an 8% share and trailing far behind Apple's iPad. Amazon tablet shipments dropped during the latest holiday season, while Apple's grew. In addition, Apple also dominates the tablet web traffic numbers with 76% of the market, while Amazon holds about a 9% share.

Amazon's entry into TV probably won't move its needle either, especially if Apple is successful.

Foolish conclusion
Google is turning up the volume in TV land by acquiring the former Green Throttle Games, and the company wants to compete against Apple and Amazon. 

Google, like Amazon, will probably use some type of game-like controller to interface to its digital content. Both companies will need to drastically improve upon their historical performance in hardware. Google's smartphone and Amazon's tablet have not been huge successes and have lagged behind Apple's performance. TV probably won't impact investors that much.

Apple has had plenty of success in hardware and a lot of experience in TV, so investors would probably benefit from the company cracking the code. Apple can certainly use a spark to overcome potential growth shortcomings.

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Mark Morelli owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

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