Google TV will be launched this fall. Only in the US at first but the world will follow next year. Apple announced similar plans at an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on 1 September.
This means both Google and Apple have thrown down the gauntlet and are now challenging the big TV networks. At first the adoption of TV through the Internet may be modest. It will mean connecting yet another device to your TV that connects to the Internet. In Apple's case this is the Apple TV and in case of Google this will probably be any computer where you can run a browser on. Many people may not be ready to surf the Internet from their lazy chair and change their TV viewing habits yet. Although the Apple TV provides a nice interface with an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad, that lets these devices stream content to the Apple TV and thus to your big screen.
Yet there may be a quicker adoption of this technology than one might think. Don't forget that YouTube outperforms many big networks when it comes to prime time viewer numbers. Transporting YouTube to the living room TV may transport with it an instant audience of 2 billion a day.
This is good news for both Google and Apple. Bad news for the networks. But lets face it, when YouTube with its piano playing cats, hyperactive teenagers and snippets of prime time TV manages to outperform the major networks, the major networks have only themselves to blame! Instead of fighting the Internet as the evil land of free for all they should have embraced it. Cuddled it and snuggled up to it. Made love to it and finally made it their own. Then they would have had a big say in what happens with the bits and bytes that travel from the handy cams to the TV screens. Instead they persisted in opposing it when parts of their shows turned up on YouTube. They gave it the stink eye the rest of the time, partly by incorporating it in their web sites in the most bungling, user unfriendly ways they could think of.
Now the big TV networks are left with a bruised pride and a lot of skittish viewers who are as used to watching TV on their laptops, iPads and media centres as they are on their networks. YouTube et al will become just another channel to watch in the eyes of many viewers. And considering the quality of programming of many channels, that piano playing cat doesn't even stand out.
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