Five ways Google TV can kill Apple TV

Google could benefit both businesses and consumers after learning lessons from the disappointing Apple TV.

Recently I wrote about how the rumored Apple iTV could help your company with tools including easy videoconferencing and online video libraries. Then Steve Jobs unveiled his Apple TV product, which could do little more than a Roku box. Let's hope Google TV, which is actually more of a platform rather than just a box, doesn't do the same.

To make sure, here are some suggestions for how Google can gain more business users and consumers by offering more than the bare minimum of features.

1. Videoconferencing

Apple completely blew it by not adding the iOS to the Apple TV, which would have opened the product up to its desirable FaceTime application. Google, which delivered video chat and the recent Google Voice for Gmail, could easily integrate both for the new Google TV, creating cheap and easy videoconferencing among offices. Skype is already promising to bring video conferences to small- and medium-sized businesses, and beating it to the punch could be an easy win for Google.

2. Online Video Libraries

We all need someplace to store our old videotapes, DVDs, and other outdated media. Google should also give customers access to online data storage so businesses can digitize and keep them all in one place. No more scratches, no more boxes, and no more labels; it's all in one tidy spot. The online storage can also give companies incentive to create short informational video spots to show customers or to play as background in the lobby.

3. Android Market

While it's still unclear what OS Google TV will be using, so far Google is saying that Android apps will be available for use next year on Google TV. This is the bombshell that should have made Steve Jobs quake in his boots. This signals an integration of the operating systems, which means that managers can stream company videos to employee Android phones or devices, all of which makes Google TV a much more attractive proposition to a company and its IT department.

4. TV with Internet Capability Is Now a Must

Despite Steve Jobs stating that consumers "don't want a computer on their TV," many may see his dismissive comment as self-serving. With an increasing emphasis on digitizing all content, anything with a screen has to have more than one kind of capability. Who would have thought a decade ago that anyone would watch a feature-length film on their mobile phone, or would want to? Business customers, more than consumers, especially need any of their purchases to do double-duty to make fiscal sense. And with so many televisions already coming with Internet capability, there's no reason not to use a platform that will maximize it.

5. Innovation

Google, unlike Apple, is also looking to innovate in its new platform. Already Google has released an informational guide for would-be developers to create more applications specifically for Google TV. While many apps will probably be useless or purely for entertainment, there will likely be some useful programs for business consumers in the near future.

I have high hopes for Google TV, but as of yet, there hasn't been much official word on what the product will likely do and its commitment to the business market (although Google does seem to be targeting that market more with Google Apps). We do know that Google TV will be integrated into electronics, such as televisions and set-top boxes, but the price is still unknown. I hope it turns out to be the Internet-capable, app-laden television it should create, rather than a glorified TiVo nobody needs.

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Tags AppleGoogleconsumer electronicsApple TVGoogle TVOffice Hardware

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Barbara E. Hernandez

PC World (US online)

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