Google may also have an ace up its sleeve in the form of its mobile app store, the Android Market, a version of which is due to appear on Google TV devices later this year. Software developers are expected to create apps that bring new services to TV, from online social games to apps that turn smart phones and tablets into remote controls. “When Android Market opens up Google TV to more apps, we’ll start to see things come about that we haven’t thought of before,” says Rakesh Agrawal, CEO of SnapStream, which sells technology that enables government agencies and TV production companies to search TV content.
Yet Google’s toughest challenge is to convince TV studios and networks to stop deliberately obstructing its service. Days after Google TV debuted last October, CBS, NBC, and ABC started blocking shows freely available on their websites from being viewed using Google TV devices. Attempts to convince the broadcast and cable networks that Google TV was a complement, not a competitor, were fruitless.
That has left a big hole in what users can view on Google TV devices. Virtually every other competitor offers access to the online TV service Hulu, for example, which is operated by a coalition of broadcasters.
Google TV isn’t yet a lost cause, according to people who closely watch the still-emerging market for so-called Connected TVs and devices. “The consumer home media experience is set for massive disruption,” says Jeremy Toeman, chief product officer for Dijit, a San Francisco startup whose software turns a smart phone into a TV remote control with a program guide and social networking. But unless Google can give consumers a reason to crave Google TV, the company may play only a bit part in that disruption.