At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The view of one experienced Entrepreneur

One entrepreneur who has been involved in a few high profile young companies in the digital media/video area had this to say about the Google/Intel/Sony TV alliance:

’m very curious as to the potential from Google, Intel, and Sony. Intel has wanted in on the “connected TV” for a long time (disclosure: they were an investor in Mediabolic), and has never really executed very well. It’s not to say they can’t, but it’s safe to say the space is far far away from their core DNA. Sony too has stumbled frequently in this space (here’s their version of a convergence device). Logitech? See Sony. And then there’s Google.

Part of me thinks Google believes that all devices are effectively the same, and their (limited) success in the phone market implies opportunity in the TV market. Another part of me thinks Google is just so big they take on any sector they see opportunity in. But most of me thinks Google wants to get firmly entrenched in the biggest advertising market there is – television. And as hard as doing phones might be, doing TV boxes is much much harder. Here’s why:

  • Phones play highly restricted media types. Converged TV devices are expected to play all media types. This topic alone is probably worthy of a blog post, but trust me when I say – it’s hard.
  • Consumers buy new phones on a recurring basis (multiple times a year in some countries). Consumers replace TVs infrequently, and buy TV “accessory” devices only a couple of times per decade. While the market is huge, it’s hard to get new devices into the home.
  • Carriers are motivated to push new devices and services into the hands of their customers, it’s part of their business model. TV service providers are not motivated to do so (as discussed above).
  • As much as phones are “closed systems”, a manufacturer is able to purchase equipment and get a device certified and get it on the network without too much involvement by a carrier. While the path is actually similar (CableCard Tru2Way certification), the realities for both the manufacturer and, more importantly, consumer are much much worse.
  • Again, as stated above, consumers are generally dissatisfied with their phones (a problem unlikely to go away) and are excited about new ones. Consumers literally dread changing equipment in their living room – even us geeky dads with cool quadrophonic sound


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