We live in the time of convergence. Cell phones have practically merged with computers and a single laptop is as capable as a music studio. However, there is one gadget in our homes that has managed to escape this trend: the TV. Apart from getting flatter, it’s only the TiVo-like devices that have attempted to change the game. I’d say that hasn’t managed to revolutionize the way we look at the TV. Things might be about to change though.
The main players on the field right now are Apple and Google. Apple has for a long time kept their “hobby project”, the Apple TV, alive in spite of lacking consumer interest. About five months ago Google announced its, creatively named, contender: Google TV. I will not dig into the technical details of the two offered solutions, as that is not really my area of expertise. Instead I will focus on my impressions so far and what I believe to be the most interesting consequences of the TV finally getting connected.
First of all, it’s about time that the TV is coming online! Not only that, also that it gets connected to your local network at home in an easy way will be a great thing for the not-so-tech-savvy late majority. As Google put it during the initial presentation of Google TV, the TV is the biggest screen in most people’s homes, but still it’s not used too often. Let’s see photo slideshows, Youtube clips, edited home videos and everything else digital on the king of all screens.
For advertisers this also means great possibilities. Not only through the sheer fact that the step from seeing a commercial to taking action online is even shorter, but the possibilities offered by the apps that can be created are quite significant. Why not take sponsorship to the next level and create a Red Bull app that is the interface for watching extreme sports?
For consumers, the apps are likely to offer an enhanced viewing experience. Imagine watching a show where you can affect the plot through interactive voting during the directly through your TV, or just accessing all possible statistics in real-time during a soccer game.
Apple and Google are two of my favourite brands. As can be seen on the tag cloud on the right side of this page, they’re in general quite popular to discuss in this crowd. I believe that they have started something very promising. This sentiment is however not shared by everyone (Nicholas Delson and Matt Burns for example), but at least I’ve felt that the TV is like the slightly less capable baby brother of my laptop. It might just be that he’s growing up, and you all know how fast that happens nowadays.