Forrester: Steve Jobs is wrong, GoogleTV will work

June 14, 2010: 1:53 PM ET

In a research paper by Dr. James L. McQuivey, Forrester lays out some interesting claims for Google's TV platform.

Image Credit: Seth Weintraub

GoogleTV wowed the audience at Google I/O this year bringing together some of the consumer industry's heavyweights behind a platform that seemed to offer a new spin on the TV.

A month later at the Wall St. Journal's D8, Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs panned the idea of the GoogleTV as the next set-top box doomed to failure:

"The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, [ask AppleTV?] ask Google in a few months. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there's no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there's a viable go-to-market strategy."

Like some other analystsMcQuivey thinks that may not be the case.  In a blog post, he says:

Steve Jobs...marginalized Google TV on stage at D8, the All Things Digital conference. With all respect to the man (generally, a genius). He's wrong.

In the report, he offers some good reasons why GoogleTV will be different.

  • GoogleTV can be offered in any TV device.  Besides what's already been announced, GoogleTV can be put in additional TV and BluRay boxes.  They expect to see GoogleTV inside of Sony (SNE) Playstations and Nintendo Wiis within a year.
  • GoogleTV will turn mobile phones into remotes as demonstrated at Google I/O.  That will add a new dimension to the industry allowing a whole new level of interaction with TVs
  • For better or worse, Google (GOOG) is aware of what you are watching and what your history of TV watching is.  They can make educated guesses about what you may like in the future.  You can already see this in YouTube suggestions.  GoogleTV will bring that type of knowledge across content platforms.

They see GoogleTV's adoption as a three-part process.

First, hardware manufacturers must get on board. Forrester expects additional makers to get on board at the time of launch. GoogleTV's software will be free and Intel's hardware should be relatively inexpensive.

Since it will be on a lot of hardware, a lot of viewers will be on board.  Forrester thinks the initial market for a device like that is around 10 million viewers but they estimate that even at one million, it will spur developer interest.

Developers will get on board and start creating some additional value for perspective viewers.

That will create a full virtuous cycle.

Who stands to lose?

Forrester expects TV, BluRay and set top box manufacturers that are on the outside looking in to scramble to keep up or lose any premium value. CableTV providers and networks will have to shift their models to accomodate the ease at which content flows to TVs.  And of course, Apple who have been working on their "hobby" may bee missing an opportunity.

Any chance at failure?

While Forrester is confident that GoogleTV will be a success, they point out that Google needs to understand that TV is still TV.  Most people don't want the traditional Web on their TV.  They want TV with the added benefit of Internet content.  Forrester concludes:

"It's only natural that Internet-centric Google would mistakenly think that telling people they can now have the Web on their TVs is appealing. The people at Google live in a Web world. The rest of us do not. When we sit down to watch TV, the most important thing we want is a better way to experience TV shows and movies — and that's what Google TV needs to sell to the public to make this work."

That experience is one that Google has not yet proven it can deliver.  However, with efforts like YouTube "lean back" and other innovations, Google is certainly moving in that direction.

Much more in the full report available from Forrester.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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