Convergence, is it finally here? Google TV and Apple TV battle to transform the living room.

Back in the 90s I was on a list serve (remember those?) on the convergence of media. The thinking back then was that sooner or later television would no longer be bound to the living room and that the Web wouldn’t be bound to the desktop. They would converge.

If content could be delivered at high-speed, (this was back when everyone had dial-up at home) via the internet, people would no longer be content to watch Baywatch in their living room.  Heck, they could watch it on their desktop. This was mainly perceived as a technical problem at the time. Everyone thought people really wanted TV on the world wide web delivered to the personal computer. And also that TV viewing would be better if it were more interactive.

We now  have Hulu, YouTube, and even smart phones that can stream content. Yet the vast majority of video is still consumed in the living room passively. Especially entertainment media.

Conversely, the internet has been making inroads into our family room. Google TV, officially launched today, Apple TV, Boxee, set-top boxes, and even some televisions now deliver the web to our TV.

Only most people don’t want to actually look at the Web on their TV or really want to “lean in” to their PC to watch their favorite sit-com. The computer is work. The TV is passive relaxation.

However there is software that’s started to change this work/play separation. You guessed it, iOS (and Android). The iPhone brings our work email and our entertainment together. The iPad has our reading material and our spreadsheets on the same device and also provides a wonderful screen for watching that sit-com. But they don’t do it at the same time.

iOS and Android don’t require you to watch TV on a computer. They morph  a Droid, iPhone or iPad into a video playback device and then later morph it into a book and then into a calender to schedule a business meeting.

There are no windows, mice, keyboards reminding you to you’re on a computer – it’s a seamless transformation from one device to another. The operating system truly changes the entire function of the device from one app to the next. Apple and Google have put their amazing software  into Apple TV and now Google TV.

In the end, the Web hasn’t converged with TV, rather the TV now has the power to be transformed into countless devices that leverages the internet.

While at first Steve’s “hobby” and Google’s low-profile launch don’t look all that earth shattering, consider the tiny computing power of a Droid, an iPhone or iPad and consider how profoundly they’ve changed the way we look at what a phone or a tablet computer can and should be.

While the pundits are arguing that Steve Jobs is just trying to sell more from his iTunes store and Google is just trying to sell more ad space, Apple TV and Google TV, through the power of their app driven software, will transform your TV, in the near future, into whatever open-source community thinks it should be. That might mean a giant cook book, a weather monitoring station, a spreadsheet, a giant drawing tablet, a virtual conference room, or musical instrument. And get ready for touch-screen TVs.

This presents some amazing opportunities for advertisers and some scary times for media outlets. Yes, TV man, Google wants more of your advertising dollars.

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Posted on: October 4, 2010, by :