Are you there Google? It’s me, Doug. Whether it’s right or not, you’re getting worked left and right with this Google TV thing. Being blocked by all the major networks was bad enough, but now Viacom’s blocking you too.
Sure, Viacom is only a handful of basic cable stations but most of those stations represent the key demographic of people who actively watch shows online. I can’t get CBS’ Two and a Half Men? BFD. I’m not 70 years old and into recycled punch lines telegraphed from two towns over. I can’t get Comedy Central’s The Daily Show? That’s actually a BFD.
Your CEO recently said that he thinks this whole debacle will “work itself out.” That may be true but by the time it happens, we’ll all have forgotten about Google TV. “Oh, you mean that $300+ thing where you could sort of watch online shows on your TV set except the networks blocked most of the content for no reason? And Google just stood there with its hands in its pants throughout the entire 2010 holiday season?”
That’s how we’ll remember it.
In your defense, the TV networks are being run by some of the most technologically-backward, internet-fearing, money-hungry people on the planet. But it’s becoming painfully obvious to everyone that none of these networks are going to come around any time soon. The problem has already worked itself out. They blocked Google TV.
And in your defense again, your competitors—Roku, Boxee, Apple TV, Netflix, and others—have been enabling the networks’ behavior since long before you got here. You’re not used to letting someone else dictate the rules, so the fact that the networks want you to pay for ad-supported content that’s already available for free inside standard web browsers seems crazy.
It is crazy. But networks are made of crazy people who want to get paid multiple times over for the same product.
I know you guys have been working hard, but there’s a big series of events coming up in about a month wherein people all over the world give gifts to one another. This would be a perfect time to get Google TV out there and into the hands of a lot of people. Even though your product starts at $300 and is currently missing a huge chunk of its selling points, which now makes it less appealing than competing products that cost half as much, there are few events that result in so much gift-giving by so many people all at once.
You might say that if you miss this opportunity, you’ll have to wait another year! And a year is a long time in the world of technology. Between now and next year, another company or handful of companies may create something just like Google TV, but better and cheaper and with less network blocking.
This isn’t going to sound popular, but you have to just play along with the networks for now. That means paying them to let the Google TV web browser play their content even though the nearly-identical Google Chrome web browser on the laptop sitting next to the TV can play it for free.
Get everything unblocked and make it through the holidays—that’s the series of events I was talking about earlier—and then renegotiate the terms if and when the networks realize that you’re not trying to kill them off.
Don’t let Google TV turn into Google Buzz, Google Wave, or Orkut. The idea is there, you just can’t wait for everyone to warm up to it. This is one of life’s problems that’ll actually go away quickly if you throw money at it.
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