This Is How Google Beats Apple in Your Living Room

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is ready to step out of cyberspace and into your living room.

The Google TV team has lined up an impressive row of content partners just in time for the first hardware launches by electronics giants Sony and Logitech International (Nasdaq: LOGI  ) . Time Warner (Nasdaq: TWX  ) looms large in the starting lineup with both the movie-oriented HBO GO service and a bushel of cable channels from the Turner Broadcasting stable showing up. I've been telling you for years that Warner's home entertainment boss Kevin Tsujihara would be a name to watch in the digital era, and I believe he pulled some strings to make the Google TV thing happen for his company.

NBC Universal, embroiled in a never-ending quest to move away from current majority owner General Electric and into the arms of Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) , makes a token appearance with a stock-tracking service under the CNBC brand, but you won't see specific Google TV services from the NBC network. In fact, all of the major networks are absent at launch.

That's sort of alright, though. Unlike the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) TV box, where you're inexorably locked in to the content Apple provides for you through an iTunes-centric interface, Google gives consumers a full-fledged web browser on the TV screen with support for Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) Flash videos. Existing web-based video services like Hulu and the network-owned silos of primetime content haven't specifically said that their sites will work with Google TV, but then again they also haven't said that it won't work. I believe it's only a matter of time before the network giants decide to throw their support behind this platform; it's just a little too fresh and unproven at this point.

A range of exclusively digital content providers have also stepped up to the plate, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) chief among them. Netflix never saw a content distribution channel it didn't love, of course, so that's no shock.

So the digital battle for your living room has started. It's Google versus Apple at this point, brandishing their Android and iOS platforms respectively. Others will undoubtedly make a play for this space after letting these pioneers break some difficult ground. The very experience of watching TV is due for another major revolution: DVR boxes, digital cable services, and on-demand videos are about to be joined by flexible, web-surfing phenoms, and nobody will want to go back to the dark ages after tasting this sweetly addictive poison. And don't forget that Google gets to serve a whole new form of advertising to this new wave of customers.

Is Google TV the platform that finally breaks Google out of the online advertising box where its revenues have been contained since time immemorial? I believe it is; discuss in the comments below.

Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple, Adobe Systems, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Logitech is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a write covered strangle position on Logitech. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Logitech International SA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, and he's getting a little verklempt. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (19)

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 October 05, 2010, at 11:01 PM, xmmj wrote:

    Not locked into iTunes only.

    1- Netflix is available

    2- In a month AirPlay will transmit anything from your Mac or iOS device to the AppleTV. This includes YouTube or anything displayed in your browser or via an iOS App.

    Get your facts straight.

    Or you look like a fool. :)

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2010, at 11:05 PM, maximus9 wrote:

    I feel Google offers a better and more flexible user interface compared to Apple. The real winner in this battle will be the consumer who will have a much wider choice at far lower costs. The days of 2-year contracts coupled with high cost of cable service are numbered. Netflix will also benefit since it has partnerships with both Apple and Google.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2010, at 11:26 PM, dandles2020 wrote:

    I love renting TV shows off Itunes, especially for a dollar. However ... I would love to get those HBO shows a little quicker. If Google can make that happen, I'm intrigued.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2010, at 11:46 PM, kenwu wrote:

    I just bought an Apple TV over the past weekend. netflix works quite well. Also i can play my movies saved in my iTune from my Mac on my LED. So far I like Apple TV and it is very user friendly. but based on the news, it sounds that google TV provides more Internet services such as streaming Adobe Flash or HBO. Depending on the price of the google tv, I would like to give it a shot.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 1:59 AM, Foolorama wrote:

    Apple understands user interface and customer relations far better that Google currently does. Much as it seems that "rolling an OS" is like falling off a log, it really isn't if your intention is to get it right. Apple has demonstrated a commitment to profoundly stable systems with clear and transparent user interfaces in products that work dependably. Please remember that when Apple does make a mistake, it's big news. Remember the iPhone 4 transmission problem. Front page. Now

    contrast that to open source software, or the outright nonexistance of customer support for Google. Where do you go to solve the problem? Yes, Apple is a closed system - with the big exception of Apps - but the driving force behind that is to insure that the Apple customer keeps coming back.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 2:10 AM, blix13 wrote:

    Hulu is available everywhere, on and off the internet, so having that on Google t.v. gives it no discernable advantage. Netflix is available everywhere (on all platforms, they are smart whores that way) so that gives Google nothing over AppleTV. Apple's iTunes is a VERY closed system with lots of limitations and it still conquered the freaking world and changed the music industry in a historic manner so AppleTV being more closed and less flexible is again...a NON-issue. Apple will win because they will design more creative interfaces. Their product will be simple, elegantly executed, and easy to use. And it will improve dramatically over the next 1 - 2 years. People don't want everything on their t.v.. They just want access to certain things, done extremely well. Guess who gets that? Apple. Mr. Fool, I want to be able to sit back and enjoy premium entertainment on my t.v. in high defiinition and Apple gives me that right now at a low price. And if Apple can give you a great browser (with access to the full internet) on your phone now, don't you think they'll be able to give you that on your t.v. too in the near future? And it will be better thought out than what Google offers? You tech writers always bitch about little niche things like "BUT IT DOESN'T PLAY FLAAAAAAASH!!!! WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!". The iphone doesn't play Flash and you guys have been bitching about that for years. Guess what...NO ONE CARES!!! It's stunning to me how closed your vision is and how much writers like you get the future wrong again...and again...and again...zzzzzzzzzzzz. Hope nobody invests their retirement savings based on your recommendations.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 2:39 AM, TechnoHistorian wrote:

    Apple TV a closed system? I'm watching Netflix, YouTube, my own films, etc., etc. using the new Apple TV. Shouldn't anyone writing on basic technology like this at least know what they are talking about?!

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 3:05 AM, khaledmrd wrote:

    Google TV is not just about Movies and streaming it is about Logitech Video Calling for TV-TV & TV-PC

    about Apps

    About Full Internet including Flash, Social Networks, Online Games, Online shopping , Nepstar, Tweeter, Facebook,etc

    and many more

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 3:10 AM, lales wrote:

    I always take the phrase "Apple's closed system", as shorthand that the writer is lazy and hasn't done their homework.

    Closed how? Flash??? As others have more eloquently pointed out WHO CARES ABOUT MOBILE FLASH??? And guess what? A year from now, even fewer will care.

    And Google/Android is open how? Because it's "free"? And please explain how it's being "free and open" affects the average consumer Android experience.

    Finally, please explain how Google's deal to limit Mobile Skype solely to Verizon or it's current legal tangle with Skyhook makes Android more open than iOS.

    Or did you not do your homework about these issues?

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 3:23 AM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    Ok, here comes the new round of nmisunformation about Apple's products to try to make Google's more attractive.

    The statement that "...Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) TV box, where you're inexorably locked in to the content Apple provides for you through an iTunes-centric interface" is simply nonsense.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 4:02 AM, xmmj wrote:

    To sum up what some others have said...

    It is one thing to be opinionated, it's another thing to be plain wrong about siimple facts.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 5:53 AM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    To all who point out that Apple TV isn't "closed" because you can watch Netflix and YouTube videos, let me point out two things:

    * YouTube and Netflix are explicitly handpicked by Apple for inclusion. Cupertino doesn't choose the video streams, but sure did pick the media outlets. Do you have the option to swing by Hulu, Metacafe, or CBS.com? No. You'd need a fully functional web browser and Flash to do these things.

    * Apple has a long history of closed systems, and it has worked out very well for the company. Some people like that kind of handholding. Others prefer to make their own media choices, which the aforementioned fully functional browser facilitates. To each their own, and I think it works out in Google's favor this time.

    Anders

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 5:57 AM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Also, just to pick a nit, Apple TV only does 720p HD resolution while Google TV, the new Roku boxes, and pretty much any Blu-ray player supports the sharper 1080p. In this day and age, why not give users the full HD experience?

    Anders

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 8:13 AM, hartinfo wrote:

    I think Google nailed it with their positioning - it's a joint internet experience. I have a TV, so hulu is not important. But what I don't have is a way for the family to browse the internet together while we plan out our next vacation, or watch my nephews championship baseball game through a local stream. To do that now required stringing a bunch of devices and connections together, and having to stand next to the TV to work the navigation.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 9:10 AM, BioBat wrote:

    GoogleTV hits a home run in terms of what it can do but I think that price is going to be a huge obstacle to wide early adoption by consumers.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 12:57 PM, gman5556 wrote:

    Geez Apple fan boys are so emotional. By reading some of these comments its like someone insulted their family honor. Get over it. Google TV will destroy Apple TV. Is that a reason to cry about it? No. I doubt it would even affect Apple shares too much since its been known for a quite a long time that Apple TV is nothing special and after the latest model it is clear they never intended it to be anything special.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2010, at 1:06 PM, blix13 wrote:

    Anders makes an excellent point about 720p. Apple should be going full 1080p and they are not. However, they may go this way in future upgrades of the device. Also, again...give it a year and watch Apple do it all better simply by executing a more focused and targeted (but yes, to some extent more "closed") approach to what Google is doing. They will make if fun to use. You will enjoy the experience. I heard Jay Leno talking about his iPad last night and he sounded like a man who had just discovered a new form of crack cocaine. He said he had never used anything like this before and apparently now can't get enough of it. That's what you want in product design - for customers to feel compelled and excited to buy. To feel like they have purchased something that is not just functional / practical, but also a cool, fun toy to have.

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