There is a war brewing on the horizon. Two technology giants will be fighting to own your living room. Apple recently announced a new Apple TV which will be available in September 2010. Google similarly announced their own television platform with the first devices being available sometime in the fall of 2010. Google TV and Apple TV differ in a number of ways and the two companies have different business models. However, it seems clear that if Google TV does what they’ve promised, it will easily beat Apple TV as the hottest new way to use our televisions.
New Apple TV
The new Apple TV improves on the earlier design in a number of ways. The box is much smaller and less expensive. It uses the A4 chip being used in iPhone and is based on Apple’s new iOS 4. Unlike its predecessor, the new Apple TV does not sync content with a computer. Instead, it relies on a computer running iTunes to stream media to it. The big improvement in the new Apple TV is that it will include support for watching streaming movies from NetFlix. Users will also be able to rent TV shows for $0.99 from the iTunes store. This fits well with Apple’s business model of locking users into iTunes for content and keeping that content “imprisoned” in the Apple ecosystem.
Google TV initially will be a similarly closed system available on select devices made by Sony and Logitech. However, Google’s plan is to open source Google TV and make a developer’s SDK available in 2011. Google TV is based on the Android operating system which is already outselling Apple’s iPhone in the smartphone market. Google TV will feature Google’s Chrome browser. It will also feature its own version of the Android market. This is where Google TV really shines. Users will be able to download applications for their TV just like they do now for their Android phone.
Different Business Models
This is where the difference in their business model becomes more apparent. Apple has no plans to allow applications to run on the Apple TV. The Apple TV is simply another way to keep users tied to iTunes and keep content locked up in the Apple pen. Apple’s business model is based on selling content. On the opposite side, Google wants to make content free. By allowing developers to build Android applications for the Google TV, they are insuring that a wide range of content will be freely available to their users. This is because Google’s business model relies on advertising revenue. They provide free content in order to sell advertising space with it.
Is Google’s business model better? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s immaterial, however. The reason Google will beat Apple is because Google believes in openness, and users want choices. The ability to download and install Android applications makes Google TV a far better choice than the new Apple TV. For a user, it means that Google TV will keep current with the times because it can easily be extended. The Apple box on the other hand is a closed system that will likely be retired by Apple in a short time as they move towards something new. Google’s TV will allows you to watch what you want where Apple will require you to go through their approved channels. Which one would your prefer?