I had a chance to speak with someone at Google at length about their vision of the TV and I think I’ve finally figured out the fundamental difference in philosophy between AppleTV and GoogleTV, at least at the moment.
Google wants to put the computer experience on the television. That includes multiple streams of audio and video, windows, web browsing, etc. The classic demonstration I’ve seen is watching a video on GoogleTV, seeing something you wanted to share and then doing a picture-in-picture with a Web browser and logging into Facebook or Twitter while the video fits in the bottom corner. Then the user starts using the GoogleTV like a computer while the video keeps playing in a PIP window.
Apple’s ideal experience is isolating video on the big screen. The menu use on AppleTV is minimal and everything else just gets videos playing as fast as possible. That may transform into game play as well in the future, but it is still one ‘channel’ on the big screen at a time. All of the Facebook, Twittering, Web browsing and eventually, I believe, finding content is meant to be done on an iOS device in your hand or lap.
While a video is playing on the device, would you rather be doing other stuff on the TV as well (Google), or would you rather do the other stuff on a dedicated screen on your lap or in your hand (Apple)? If you think about the other people in the room who have to watch you update your Twitter feed rather than doing it on your lap, the point becomes even more significant.
That’s the difference.
I think the success of the iPad relative to PCs shows that Apple’s model is a good one here. I also think we aren’t trained to use a screen 8-15 feet away as a computer (I’ve tried this many times) no matter how big it is.
You see where I am going here?
But Google is pretty good at adopting what sticks and already has an AirPlay-like technology called DLNA that will do the same thing as Airplay with some UI improvements. GoogleTV will also get much cheaper once ARM versions are released from device makers like Samsung.
They also have a device that does just about everything Apple’s device can do, plus play at 1080P, so it is hard not to want what Google has on offer.
I’m lucky enough to be getting a GoogleTV (to add to my AppleTV) this weekend and I’ll have more to share then.