Its been 20+ years since I first tasted the vision of what Interactive TV would be. AT&T, Sony, John Malone and Liberty – all lead us down the primrose path. But now Google is delivering it. In Kansas City.
OMFG! This is far more and better than I had expected!
Here are the 7 incredible things about Google Fiber TV and what Google is doing in Kansas City:
1) By throwing back to the community the decision as to WHERE they should offer the service – and in what order – Google has completely disrupted traditional cable services and the notion of offering a service – everywhere – in exchange for a legal monopoly.
That’s been the “deal-with-the-devil” terms cable has had to live with since its inception – and its now a clear disadvantage. This thorn in the side of cable has been discarded and ignored by Google with one clean blow and the entire cable industry is going down “for the count” IMHO. This shows an astute, profit generating strategy and an agile ability to run CIRCLES around “those people.”
Google calls it “Rally the Fiberhoods!” The neighborhood with the most pre-registers gets their service FIRST. If not enough people pre-register in a particular neighborhood – guess what? This shows that Google understands the trends and motives that drives the Internet: scarcity, memes, best&brightest and anything that even resembles ‘timely.’ Cable is old, Google Fiber TV is now.
Google has truly created Interactive TV. They’ve baked in YouTube and NetFlix, and loads of other features (see below) but MOST importantly – it’s all one thing. No mention of Triple-Play this, ISP/Voice/Cable that. Its all one big fat pipe – and its called FiberTV. Oh – did I forget to tell you about mobile devices and…… [see below.)
2) FREE Internet to anyone who’s willing to pay $25 a month – for 12 months. That’ll cover the install of the fiber into your home or apartment and get you 5Mbps down, 1Mbps up – for free. For ever. Did I tell yah that they’re offering FREE Internet access – to everyone? We’ll see how fast this free service customers gets their bandwidth – but I don’t see Time-Warner or COMCAST doing that. Google SO wants everyone to buy the 1G line (see below) that they’re willing to give AWAY a measly 5M – right now – for FREE!
This transcends the typical ‘digital divide’ conversation – and puts the focus on what we’re going to do WITH the fiber. $300 Chromebook, $200 Nexus 7′s – and away we go! My bet is that the $25 will be subsidized by many different local orgs and foundations – anyway. So CHECK √ – digital divide taken care of.
Did I say that they’re also giving away bandwidth to ALL local schools, community centers, non-profits, government agencies, libraries, etc. – as well?
3) 2T local storage, 1T/Google Drive account, Local Wifi notes at each TV Set Top Box – this is what I used to call the ‘server-in-the-closet’ scenario. (#27.) Each family’s media collection gets stored locally, and can transition to any mobile device – seamlessly.
This is the platform on which Google is differentiating itself not just from cable providers, but also Apple and Microsoft – as well. This high bandwidth, high throughput, media enabled hybrid environment will complement NetFlix, YouTube and 10,000s of on-demand movies and programming (see below.)
This also shows off incredibly astute strategic behavior and creates a 18-24 month buffer in front of the competition.
For now – rest assured that this system – will “have legs.” And can easily be mapped to alternative hardware configurations and partner’s systems (read: Samsung, HTC, Acer, Vizio, Sony and LG.) Watch for Android devices to take the front-burner – from now on.
4) Did I tell yah about the Fiber TV app and free Nexus 7 remote controls? Did I tell yah that the Fiber app will run on Android OR iOS and that multiple remotes can all work off of one TV? Did I mention the story of the big brother who comes in and wants to take over the TV set. So the little brother slinks off, and continues to watch the show he was interrupted from – on his tablet.
This system is worth it – JUST FOR THAT FEATURE!
Google Fiber TV is a centralized, Interactive TV experience with allows up to 8 channels to be recorded at the same time, provides 10,000s of on-demand programs and movies and is tightly integrated with NetFlix, YouTube, local TV programming, all the shows you’re recorded AND a slew of local TV programming.
Its this last insight that continues to show Google sensibilities to community engagement – providing a sort of modern-day ‘cable access’ channel – that provides a platform for local partners. Digital City Mechanics is going to be focusing on this feature!
Can you imagine multiple tablets and smartphones all interacting with the same Interactive TV show – in one room? I can?
Can you imagine multiple people – all watching the same show and interacting together – but in different places? I can – as well! This is going to enable all SORTS of educational, interactive, highly engaging and compelling interactive content. This is what we were DREAMING of back at the birth of the multimedia industry! It just took us 20 years to get here! Multiple shows, multiple devices, multiple locations – all controlled from one tablet!
Whether it be entertainment, educational, viral marketing campaigns, scientific research, health tips or eCommerce – its all happening in Kansas City!
5) Did I also tell you about a seamless interface to all sorts of stored and live content – and then syncing that up “socially?” This is the next generation of Content + Service + Education.
One way to think of this is “Hey everybody, wanna watch the next episode of “Boardwalk Empire” together?” Or “here’s some MadMen gossip I just found. Lets find out if it’s true!” Or maybe it looks more like “I wonder if Abraham Lincoln’s supporters knew about…..?”
Another way to think of this is that his system is tying together search queries and on-line research with what’s “going on right NOW!” Google calls it ‘syncing TV socially. As the on-line world of knowledge and opinion grows, we’ll finally have MULTIPLE Wikipedias – and not have to rely upon ONE. And these futuristic on-line encyclopedias will be based in video and photos. Everything looks like a Ken Burns documentary! I believe this is going to be HUGE!
Transitioning between mobile devices, different TV sets and different locations – bridges the divide between the world of TV and the “Computer Industry.” The cable industry is one of the last bastions of entertainment firmly controlled by Hollywood content producers and distributors. So what happens when I can do my OWN show, sell my OWN stuff and develop my OWN community of followers and customers?
6) Then there’s the ‘Always-on’, ‘always growing’, always getting better aspect of Google Fiber TV. We’ve been leaked upcoming features and what do you want to bet that all that G+ ‘Rolling Thunder’ stuff we heard about G+’s rollout – will get implemented in spades – for Google Fiber TV. In fact that’s probably what’s been holding up this announcement. They can’t go back – only forward – from now on!
Google is treating TV (which we’ve been trained to think off of as ‘pipes’ and buffering and updates) and turned it into a real-time web service. Hopefully every show and item – will be a URL and that all of this functionality will be available – via APIs – for us developer types!
7) And finally – I gotta say that persistent media storage and a Cloud based database of EVERY movie, EVERY song, EVERY photo and piece of art – is finally appearing. Google astutely has prepped us with Google Music and has Google Talk working already. And they’re working HARD on G+ – right now.
Google Glasses and driver-less cars delight, but Google is really about Search, Android, Chrome, Email, Maps, Docs and Video. With Google Fiber TV – Google can now enable an entirely new generation of media rich apps and services which have stock “classical music” baked in.
Or classic movies or photos. Or prime scenes from your favorite TV shows. All baked into interactive on-line content – which sits on TOP of Google Fiber TV – and treats it like a platform.
Combining interactive content with web services and tools – all wrapped inside of a social, TV and mobile experience = is what Interactive TV was SUPPOSED to be!
In 2006 I compared switching from COMCAST to AT&T’s UVerse system. That blog post STILL collects comments to this day. Back then it was obvious that the selling point that COMCAST understood, and that AT&T (and Time-Warner) didn’t – was that he size of the FREE on-demand movie and clips database is a MAJOR aspect of cable TV.
I loved my COMCAST, I hate my Time-Warner – here in Cleveland. Google understands that and is baking in 10,000s of clips, movies etc – and I hope they’ll bundle in Google Music – as well! THIS is the future of digital distribution folks – all bundled in one monthly price. Tightly coupled to the rest of my digital lifestyle!
New kinds of software infrastructure will grow out of the Fiber TV platform. With Google Hangouts available via APIs – developers can utilize video chat – in any app or service they build on top of Fiber TV. The Google Fiber TV functionality and persistent media database means – we can build a new generation of educational courseware – which will be both compelling and successful.
And as long as they’re giving away bandwidth – for free to poor and UN-interested people – I’m sure that we’ll be able to recruit many more Ninjas in this battle for a ‘Digital City’ – that’s roaring right outside your window – as we speak.