Twitter was a buzz with Google TV yesterday, and of course, people were making comparisons to Apple TV, talking about apps the whole time. I watched the video on YouTube, and frankly, I didn’t see anything revolutionary. I saw a bunch of features that may cater to the tech crowd, but will largely go unused for the masses. This doesn’t mean that Apple TV is any better, but frankly, I do think Apple is doing the right thing in not loading down their device with a bunch of fluff that people won’t use.
There’s one thing I do with my TV, and that’s watch video. I don’t need to surf the web. I don’t need a 1080p Twitter interface. I don’t need to play FarmVille (I don’t do that on other devices, either). Perhaps they’re coming, but in the promo video, I saw very little video. The NBA Game Time thing I saw filled the screen with stats but had no video! Isn’t watching the game more important? The only thing that came close was the CNBC app, which allowed access to video on demand, versus the CNBC schedule on your cable or satellite. What I want, and it’s something that can’t be done because of the content providers, is to have digital access to all of my video, on my TV and my mobile devices. This includes the subscription package from my satellite provider, the HD video I shoot with my camcorder, and the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs I buy at the store. I need an iTunes library for video.
Here are the problems today. I can’t take a show that I’ve recorded on my DVR and watch it while on the treadmill at the gym or on the plane while traveling. Yes, there’s slingbox, but I don’t want to be dealing with the poor Wi-Fi connections in a hotel room, and it certainly doesn’t work if Wi-Fi isn’t available. DVDs and Blu-Ray aren’t as problematic as there are means for ripping DVDs, and many Blu-Ray discs come in packages with a digital edition. For road trips, I know I will be soon at the point where each kid has a device in front of them where they can pick their own movie to watch without any cables, piles of DVDs, and arguments because two kids want one movie and the other one doesn’t.
Apps are simply a gimmick to try to get any of these devices to make some headway. The only apps that will work for TV are games, because we’re already doing that with the Wii, the XBox, and the PlayStation. If Google or Apple wants to go after the gaming market, then an app store for a TV set top box may make sense. Otherwise, until the content providers make their video available in Internet-based channels, I just don’t see it happening. I’ll get my $99 dollar Apple TV, simply because it’s now the right price for doing the one thing that I need it to do, which is give me access to my home video library on a big screen. Apple’s shown that you can make money by doing a few things extremely well, rather than trying to sell based on the number of bullets in your feature list.